Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

What is Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair?

Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is an advanced minimally invasive procedure in which repair of a torn rotator cuff is performed through small keyhole incisions. The procedure causes very little damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Most patient recover quickly and can return to their normal activities with minimum delay.

What conditions does Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair help?

Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair may help improve conditions such as:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Shoulder instability
  • Shoulder catching or locking

Why is Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair required?

An arthroscopic rotator cuff repair may help improve shoulder mobility, stability, and strength. If left untreated, a rotator cuff tear can cause progressive worsening of pain and severe restriction in activities.

Who is Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair Suitable For?

The Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair is suitable for those who have failed conservative treatment and in whom surgery would not be contraindicated.

Preparation for Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

In preparation for the surgery, you should inform your doctor about any medications you are currently on. Some medications may have to be temporarily discontinued before the procedure. Complete as much of your household chores as possible as you will have limited use of one arm for at least a week after the procedure. You should stop eating or drinking at midnight on the day before surgery.

Day of Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

On the day of treatment, bring a shirt with you that has buttons down the front, so you don’t have to lift your arm up while putting it on. You will be given a hospital gown to change into as well as regional and/or general anaesthesia. The procedure usually lasts about an hour and can be performed in a hospital or outpatient setting.

Immediately after Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

Immediately after the arthroscopic rotator cuff repair you will be taken to the recovery room for monitoring until the anaesthesia wears off. Most patients can return home on the same day as the surgery.

What Should I Expect After Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

Following the surgery, you will have to wear a sling for a few weeks and will need assistance with household chores. You will be given specific instructions regarding the use of pain medications and the applications of ice packs to help reduce pain and swelling.

Stages of Recovery After Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

In general, the stages of recovery are as follows:

  • After the first week: During the first week after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, you will not be able to drive and will need assistance with changing your bandage, getting dressed, bathing, and cooking. After 1 week you will be assessed by your doctor and depending on how fast you are healing, you may be cleared for light physical activity.
  • 3-6 weeks: You can continue light activity but will continue to use to sling to avoid overstressing your rotator cuff tendon.
  • 6-12 weeks: You can return to desk-based sedentary job, but not heavy lifting or manual labour jobs.  Physical therapy may be initiated to improve shoulder mobility and strength.
  • 3-6 months: Return to normal activity with no restrictions.

Possible Risk or Complications of Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

Risks or complications associated with arthroscopic rotator cuff repair are minimal compared to open surgery, but do include bleeding, infection, blood clots, and allergic reaction to medications.

What are the Alternatives to Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair?

Alternatives to arthroscopic rotator cuff repair include:

  • Nonsurgical Treatment: Options include rest, shoulder sling, pain medications, steroidal injections and physical therapy. However, these treatments may only be effective in case of minor rotator cuff tears.
  • Open Surgery:  This may be a good option in case of large and complex tears. However, the surgery requires a large incision and detachment of shoulder muscles to gain access to the torn tendon.

What are the benefits of Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair?

The benefits of arthroscopy compared to the alternative open shoulder surgery, include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Minimal soft tissue trauma
  • Less pain
  • Faster healing time
  • Lower infection rate
  • Less scarring
  • Earlier mobilization
  • Usually performed as outpatient day surgery