Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I have a moderate rotator cuff tear. I haven't had relief from physical therapy and medications. Now we're talking about surgery. My doctor says there are a couple of ways to approach surgery for tears like mine. What type of surgery is best?


There are a few ways to operate on rotator cuff tears. The most extensive surgery is open repair of the rotator cuff. With this procedure, surgeons use a large incision to operate. During surgery, they suture the tear to help the shoulder function properly. This approach is the best option for severe tears, or those that affect more than half of the rotator cuff tendon.

An alternative for minor tears is called acromioplasty. With this procedure, surgeons shave part of the acromion bone on the point of the shoulder. A ligament over the top of the shoulder is cut, and injured tissues are removed. This takes pressure off the injured rotator cuff and promotes healing. For patients with tears that affect less than half of the tendon, this procedure usually has good, lasting results.

For patients whose tears go through about 50 percent of the tendon, repair of the rotator cuff may offer better results than acromioplasty. This choice also depends on where the tear is located. Ask your doctor which surgery is best, given the size and location of your injury.

*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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