Rotator Cuff Surgery Passes the Test of Time

Repairing rotator cuff tears can give patients relief and return motion to their shoulders. But how well do these repairs hold up over time? These researchers looked at how a certain type of arthroscopic repair held up over the years. The mini-deltoid splitting method of repairing the rotator cuff involves slightly extending the incision on the point of the shoulder. In this way, the surgeon can separate the deltoid muscle to see and repair the torn rotator cuff.

The authors followed up on 60 rotator cuff repairs an average of two years and an average of five years after surgery. Subjects were asked a standard set of questions about shoulder pain and function. The results were compared to answers to the same questions before surgery. In all cases, the results were markedly better on the first follow-up than before surgery. And these good results held up. At the second follow-up, the subjects showed results that were just as good. Both follow-ups showed 80% good or excellent results from surgery.

The patients who had unsatisfactory outcomes were more likely to have had a massive tendon tear. They were also more likely to have already had shoulder surgery, including rotator cuff repairs. Eight patients developed complications. All but one of the complications developed in the first eight months.

This is good news for those who have had–or who are going to have–arthroscopic rotator cuff repair with the mini-deltoid splitting procedure used in this study. Based on this research, the chances are high you’ll end up with good to excellent results.