Looking at Results after Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff RepairThe first operation to repair a torn rotator cuff tendon in the shoulder was reported in 1911. It is called an "open repair" since it involves an incision. Since then, treatment for this problem has improved. So have the results for patients. In 1992, almost 80 years later, the first arthroscopic repair of the rotator cuff took place.
An arthroscope is a tool that allows doctors to see and work inside a joint. No incision is needed. Only a very small opening is made. The operation is called a mini-open technique. In this study, one surgeon reports results of 96 arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs.
Men and women of all ages were included. They all had shoulder pain and weakness that didn't get better with conservative care. The doctor describes step-by-step how the operation was done. There were slight differences from patient to patient based on problems inside the joint.
Pain, muscle strength, and function were the results measured. Ninety patients had a good to excellent result. That's 94 percent of the group. Follow-up showed they still had good results up to 10 years after surgery.
Three patients had the other shoulder repaired earlier using the open method. They reported much better results with the arthroscopic method. They had a faster recovery and quicker return to normal function than with the open repair.
The authors report that their results compare favorably with other studies of this type. Arthroscopy allows surgeons to see the rotator cuff tear from all angles. This type of view isn't possible with the open method. Being able to see where each suture goes and how it affects the rotator cuff is another big plus. Time will tell the final results another 10 to 20 years down the road.
Eugene M. Wolf, MD, et al. Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair: 4- to 10-Year Results. In Arthroscopy. January 2004. Vol. 20. No. 1. Pp. 5-12.
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