What is a rotator cuff tear?
The rotator cuff is an extremely important structure located within the shoulder joint that functions to stabilize your shoulder and allow overhead motions of the arm. Composed of four muscle-tendon units, the rotator cuff muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. When one or more of these tendons become torn, the shoulder loses stability, strength, and range of motion. Rotator cuff injuries are classified by “tearing” of the tendon attachment from the humerus, and can occur from overuse, degeneration of the tendon, or traumatic accidents.
Who is a candidate for a rotator cuff repair?
When a rotator cuff tear occurs, arthroscopic surgery may be necessary to restore mobility and strength of the shoulder. Dr. Potts may recommend surgery if your pain does not improve with conservative treatment. Continued pain is the main indication for surgery, especially if you are very active and use your arms for overhead work or sports. Other indications include:
- Your symptoms have lasted 6 to 12 months despite non-operative treatment
- You have a large tear (more than 3 cm) and the quality of the surrounding tendon tissue is good
- You have significant weakness and loss of function in your shoulder
- Your tear was caused by a recent, acute injury
What happens during rotator cuff arthroscopy?
Dr. Potts performs rotator cuff repairs utilizing minimally invasive shoulder arthroscopy to help patients return to activities quicker and with less pain. The procedure is completed on an outpatient basis under regional and general anesthesia. In most cases, arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs take around 60 to 90 minutes to complete.
During an arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, a series of poke-hole incisions are made around the shoulder that are used to insert a small camera (called an arthroscope) and surgical instruments to perform the repair. Dr. Potts then looks inside the joint to identify the tear and any other damage inside your shoulder. The torn rotator cuff tendon is sewn back down to the bone, from where it was originally detached. The repair is done through use of special suture anchors that are anchored within the bone. These anchors are attached to sutures that are sewn through the end of the torn tendon, which pulls it back down to its attachment site on the bone.
Other procedures may also be performed during an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, including a subacromial decompression, distal clavicle excision, or biceps tenodesis.