Question:My son is going to have a rotator cuff tear repaired surgically. The doctor described a special anchor suture that will be used to hold the tendon in place until it heals. What kind of problems can come from using these anchors?
Rotator cuff tears are often repaired using some kind of anchor or suturing system. The fixation devices are called suture anchors. They work like rivets to reattach the tendon to the bone. These anchors can be made of bone, metal, or plastic.
Problems differ depending on the type of anchor material used. For example, some anchors (like the bone buttons) require a hole predrilled before insertion. This extra step makes for a longer operation. Sometimes the surgeon has trouble making and then finding and using the hole.
Anchors made of bone are usually absorbed by the surrounding bone and don't have to be removed. Plastic anchors may also "dissolve" or get absorbed by the bone. Some metal anchors are held in place by threads or barbs. These do not resorb and can cause problems if they move or come loose.
Other problems can include breakage of the anchors, anchor pullout, infection, or rerupture of the tendon. Infection and poor wound healing are problems in a small number of cases. Usually, these patients have diabetes or some other healthy issues or they are tobacco users.Peter M. Bonutti, MD, and Matthew Cremens, MS. Use of Direct Introduction of Allograft Anchors for Rotator Cuff Repair. In The American Journal of Orthopedics. February 2005. Vol. 34. No. 2. Pp. 97-99.
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