Question:At age 83, am I too old for a rotator cuff repair? I'm not a senior athlete but I'd sure like to do more with this bum shoulder.
Answer:An orthopedic surgeon would be the best one to answer your question. Age is an important variable but there are many other factors to consider. The condition of the torn tendon is one. Excessive scar tissue, weak tendon fibers, and poor bone quality can reduce the changes of a successful repair.
The location and extent of your tear must be considered. The surgical technique used may depend on these factors. There are numerous types of sutures and anchors used to repair the tear. Placement of the fixation may affect the outcome.
Many surgeons use a double row of sutures. This can be done arthroscopically or through a mini-incision. A newer technique of suture anchor without knots has simplified the arthroscopic procedure. Fewer anchors are needed and they are easier to make. They also withstand greater loads than previously used corkscrew anchor repair.
Some methods of repair seem to work better for younger patients. Your surgeon will take into consideration both anchor and suture designs for your particular rotator cuff tear. Future improvements are needed to reduce the friction between the suture and anchor. Research is ongoing to find ways to increase the strength of the suture against rubbing.Naiquan Zheng, PhD, et al. Failure Analysis of Rotator Cuff Repair: A Comparison of Three Double-Row Techniques. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. May 2008. Vol. 90-A. No. 5. Pp. 1034-1042.
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