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Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair


Your doctor may recommend an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair if your rotator cuff is damaged.

The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons that anchor the head of the upper arm bone, the humerus, securely into the socket of the shoulder joint.

The muscles of the rotator cuff pull on bands of tough, inelastic tissue, called tendons, to raise and rotate your arm, while keeping the shoulder joint stable.

A torn rotator cuff causes arm movement to be painful, limited, or impossible, depending on the severity of the tear.

In the most severe injuries, the tendon is torn away from its attachment on the head of the humerus.

Because blood supply to tendons is poor, a rotator cuff tendon is unable to heal itself after a complete tear, and you will need surgery.

Your rotator cuff can be injured by: falling, lifting, pulling, or doing repetitive overhead arm motions, such as: pitching, swimming, and painting.

In addition, the normal wear and tear that accompanies aging can weaken and break down the tendons.

Your surgeon will begin by making two small cuts in your skin to access the inside of the shoulder.

Next, your surgeon will insert an arthroscope. This device contains a light, a camera, and tiny surgical tools.

The arthroscope will project images onto a TV monitor to guide your surgeon's work.

Your surgeon will make a few more small cuts, using small tools to examine your shoulder joint for unhealthy tissue and repair the torn tendon.

Next, your surgeon will drill a few small holes in your bone, wherein implants, called suture anchors, will be placed.

Your surgeon will loop sutures through the anchors and stitch them to the repaired tendon to re-connect the tendon to the bone.

The anchors and sutures will gradually be absorbed into the healing tissues.

At the end of the procedure, your surgeon will take out the arthroscopic tools and close your incisions with stitches.

After the procedure, your shoulder will be placed in a sling for support and protection.

You'll spend a few hours in the recovery room and will most likely go home the same day.