Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


Our son had a rotator cuff and labral tear of the left shoulder. I heard the surgeon say they used two suture anchors to repair the tears. That doesn't seem like much. Will it really hold?


Rotator cuff tears can be partial or full-thickness lesions. Suture anchors are used in the repair. These stitches have a sliding, self-locking knot that permits surgeon to perform secure repair procedure without tying knots on top of tissue. The suture anchor makes it possible to reattach torn tissue without interfering with joint motion. The number of suture anchors used depends on the size, shape, and location of the tear. And the type of technique used to repair the damage can also make a difference.

Some tears are crescent-shaped while others are L- or U-shaped. There can be more than one tendon involved requiring more sutures. The surgeon usually uses between one and four anchors to repair a rotator cuff tear. An equal number of sutures may be needed when there is an additional tear of the labrum. The labrum is a fibrocartilage ridge around the shoulder socket. It can tear from front-to-back requiring an extra surgical step to reconstruct the shoulder.

If you have concerns or doubts about the stability of your son's shoulder, ask the surgeon more about it at the next follow-up appointment. After the procedure, there is a strict protocol to follow. The patient must avoid overhead motion or internal rotation such as reaching the hand across the chest.

A rehab program under the supervision of a physical therapist is started around six weeks and continues for up to six months. Full function is restored six to 10 months after surgery. Francesco Franceschi, MD, et al. No Advantages in Repairing a Type II Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior (SLAP) Lesion When Associated With Rotator Cuff Repair in Patients Over Age 50. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. February 2008.Vol. 36. No. 2. Pp. 247-253.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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