Rotator Cuff Repair

What is a Rotator Cuff Repair?

For surgical rotator cuff repair, it is a procedure that aims to re-attach the torn tendon to the head of the humerus or upper arm bone. Depending on the severity of the tear complete reattachment through stitching may not be needed. A trimming or smoothing out procedure could be recommended.

How do you prepare for a Rotator Cuff Repair?

There are many things that can be done to prepare for any surgery and specifically rotator cuff repair. Make sure you speak in depth with your surgeon and are comfortable leading up to your surgery. Generally, you will have a physical examination before any surgery to confirm you are well enough to undergo the procedure. This can be done in conjunction with prescribing pain medication for the recovery. Make sure to have any prescription filled prior to.

Some basic things are to not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery. If you develop any health concerns leading up to surgery make sure to let your surgeon know. This could be something as innocent as a cough or elevated temperature.

Why is a Rotator Cuff Repair performed?

Your measurement of improvement and pain reduction from other non-surgical treatments is a strong indication for needed rotator cuff repair surgery. If pain continues or worsens with treatments such as physical therapy, or medications that is the main indication for surgery. Some more objective indications are a large, 3 cm or more, tear of the tendon, loss of function or an acute injury.

What can you expect during a Rotator Cuff Repair?

Rotator Cuff Repair surgery is commonly down under general anesthesia within an outpatient ASC (ambulatory surgery center). You will be very comfortable leading up to and during the procedure. There are several surgical options that your doctor will discuss and walk you through the differences:

  • Open Repair
  • Arthroscopic Repair
  • Mini-Open Repair

What is the followup and recovery like for a Rotator Cuff Repair?

Once you recover from the anesthesia, you can go home later that same day. You will feel some pain, which is natural. Pain relievers can be used to help manage short term pain. Rehabilitation will be a major piece of your recovery.

Make sure your doctor has or recommends a physical therapist and program well before surgery. For several weeks after surgery, you will perform passive and active exercises to rebuild strength.

What are the potential costs for a Rotator Cuff Repair?

Surgery for rotator cuff repair is generally covered by most insurance plans. Please contact our office to make sure your benefits cover the procedure. Our staff will make sure to contact your insurance provider so we can clearly talk about any potential cost you may have to cover.

What are the potential risks for a Rotator Cuff Repair?

Rotator cuff repair surgery is a surgical procedure. And, as with any surgery, bleeding and infection at the surgical site are potential risks.

Are there related procedures to a Rotator Cuff Repair?

An experienced orthopedic surgeon may also identify and treat bicep tendon tears, bone spurs or other tears in the tissue.


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Dr. William Lackey is the founder of Breakthrough Orthopedics, a New York based medical practice that specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques and joint preservation procedures. Learn More »

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