What is a Rotator Cuff Repair?

This picture shows the shoulder joint and the rotator cuff muscles.

This is a group of muscles which wrap closely around the shoulder joint, helping to keepthe joint in the correct position and control shoulder movements. The muscles attach from the shoulder blade to the top of the arm bone. They can be damaged through general wear and tear or after an accident / fall. The damage usually occurs close to the tendon attachment to the bone.

Damage to one or more of these muscles / tendons can therefore lead to a loss of shoulder movement and the shoulder becomes weak and painful.

The operation aims to repair the damage to the rotator cuff. The torn muscles/tendons are repaired with sutures or suture anchors depending on the site and size of damage. The operation can be done either arthroscopically (i.e. key-hole surgery’) or through an open incision. The exact approach to be used will be discussed with you prior to the surgery and will be determined by a number of factors including the size and the type of tear involved.

Possible associated procedures

During your operation your surgeon will use a tiny camera to look inside your shoulder for other areas of damage. It may be necessary to do an additional procedure at the same time. These include:-

  • Sub-acromial Decompression
  • Acromio-clavicular joint excision
  • What are the risks of having a Rotator Cuff Repair?

All operations involve an element of risk, these are very small but you need to be aware of them and can discuss them with your doctor at any time. The risks can be:-

  • Complications relating to the anaesthetic
  • Infection
  • Stiffness and or pain around the shoulder
  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels around the shoulder
  • Re-tear of the rotator cuff