Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair


A network of four muscles that come together as tendons and cover the head of the humerus around is called “rotator cuff”. Injury and degeneration are the two major causes of rotator cuff tear. A rotator cuff tear can be of two types:

Partial tear
Full-thickness tear

The main objective of the surgery is to re-attach the tendon to the head of the upper arm bone or the humerous. A surgery is recommended only when the pain and other symptoms of rotator cuff tear is not relieved with the nonsurgical treatments. Other signs when the doctor suggests surgical repair may include:

If the rotator cuff tear symptoms lasts for 6-12 months
If the patient has a tear larger than 3 cm
If the patient experiences notable weakness and loss of function of the shoulder
If the tear is caused due to an acute injury

How is arthroscopic rotator cuff repair performed?

During the arthroscopic procedure, the surgeon will first insert the arthroscope through the incision into the shoulder joint. The arthroscope is connected to the monitor outside. The monitor will show the images of the inner structures of the shoulder joint. Through the incision, the surgeon will also insert surgical instruments to repair the rotator cuff tear. The procedure is also known as all-arthroscopic repair, which is a minimally invasive procedure.  

What about the risks and complications of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair?

As a minimally invasive procedure, arthroscopic rotator cuff has minimal risks and complications. Some of the potential risks and complications are:

  • Infection
  • Blood clot
  • Damage to nerves
  • Excessive bleeding

What about the results and rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is important to get back the patient to daily activities faster. Physical therapy program will be beneficial to restore the strength and motion of the joint. The doctor may also recommend immobilization, active exercise and passive exercise during the recovery period.

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