What is Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

The rotator cuff is a complex of muscles and tendons found in your shoulder. They support the upper arm bone. When one of these tendons is injured, it’s known as a rotator cuff injury. Sometimes, the injury can be healed with rest, and you can take analgesics for the pain. The doctor may give you corticosteroid injections to help the shoulder’s recovery.

However, in some cases the injury is so severe that you may need surgery to repair it. Your surgeon may recommend an open surgery which requires a long incision, but more and more surgeons are recommending arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. This type of surgery uses smaller instruments, and the doctor uses an arthroscope, a tiny camera inserted into your shoulder. They can see what they are doing by following a monitor attached to the camera. Because the incisions are so small, there is less blood loss and less pain during your recovery. Your recovery itself is quicker than it would be with an open surgery, and you have less risk of developing complications.

How to Prepare for the Surgery
Your preparation for surgery starts weeks before it actually happens. You’ll have a consultation with your surgeon. During the consultation they’ll take your medical history and tell you to stop doing things that can interfere with your healing such as smoking and taking blood thinning medicines.

On your end, you’ll need to have someone help you with your daily tasks after the surgery. You’ll need someone to drive you around and be willing to help you with your daily tasks for a few weeks. You should buy a good number of meals that are easy to make and easy to eat, purchase items that make life easier such as a grabber or a shower chair, and buy lots of pillows to support your shoulder.

The Surgery
You’ll be under general anesthesia during the surgery. The doctor makes the incisions, called portals, drills a small hole in your upper arm bone and sutures the damaged rotator cuff to it. Then the doctor moves your arm to make sure that the tendon is in the right place. The portals are sutured shut, and your arm is placed in a sling.

The Recovery
Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery can be an outpatient procedure. After the surgery, you’ll be taken into a recovery room where you’ll be monitored. When the surgical team has decided that all is well, you’ll either be allowed to go home or wheeled to your hospital room to recover. When you go home, you’ll be given instructions for your care by the nurse. It’s important to follow them.

You’ll need to take care to keep the dressing over your shoulder dry and clean. You can cover it with plastic when you take a shower, and you can gently wash your surgical wound when you have your doctor’s okay. When you go to bed, you’ll need to rest your arm in a sling or on a pillow. It takes about six months to heal from rotary cuff surgery.

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POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!