I've been getting ready to have shoulder surgery for a rotator cuff tear. I'm an avid (middle-aged) golfer. I've looked at arthroscopic surgery versus open surgery. I really want to get back on the golf course. Which one of these is better for golfers?
There's still quite a bit of debate on this point. Studies don't show a big difference in results between these two approaches. The arthroscopic procedure is minimally invasive. There is less soft tissue disruption and a smaller incision. But there is some concern that this method leaves some people with a repair that won't remain stable or hold up.
Surgeons tend to use open repair techniques for over-head throwing athletes. The belief is that they need a mechanically stronger repair. But there are other surgeons who report that they are using all-arthroscopic surgeries for all patients including athletes.
There are two other things to consider when making this decision. The first is return-to-sports and the level of activity you may achieve. It is possible to return to the game at your pre-injury level. But some patients who have the arthroscopic repair do so at a level below their former playing ability.
And secondly, it is possible to retear the repair. Retear rates compare equally between open and arthroscopic techniques. In many reported cases, the patients with retears did not follow the rehab protocol and did more than was advised.
Dennis Liem, MD, et al. Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair in Overhead-throwing Athletes. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. July 2008. Vol. 36. No. 7. Pp. 1317-1322.
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