Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

My adult daughter is going in for surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. She doesn't really know what kind of surgery they are going to do. The surgeon says it depends on what they find when they get in there. Does this seem reasonable? I'm trying not to interfere and let her manage her own affairs but I have my doubts.

Answer:

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround and stabilize the shoulder. Injury or rupture to any one of those tendons constitutes a rotator cuff tear (RCT).

Surgeons agree that RCT repairs can be difficult. It's especially hard to predict who is going to need what kind of surgery or what the result will be. Some of the decision is based on the location of the tear. If it's close to the edge of the shoulder socket, there can be difficulties. Or if the tear is too long or too wide, a different decision may be made compared to smaller, thinner tears.

The surgeon must carefully balance all the muscles around the shoulder to get the best result. They can only do this in the operating room once it's clear where and what is the problem.

The surgeon may have given your daughter more information than she remembers or is remembering to tell you. If you are planning to go with your daughter on the day of surgery, you'll have a chance to talk with the surgeon then. Plan ahead and ask one or two of your most important questions at that time.

Or perhaps if you ask your daughter a few carefully chosen questions now, it will help her see the importance of asking more about her own surgery. On the other hand, some people prefer to let the surgeon take care of the problem without knowing the details. Michael Moser, MD, et al. Functional Outcome of Surgically Treated Massive Rotator Cuff Tears: A Comparison of Complete Repair, Partial Repair, and Debridement. In Orthopedics. June 2007. Vol. 30. No. 6. Pp. 479-482.

*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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