Long-term outlook good for rotator cuff repairs

February 28, 2009

LAS VEGAS, NV - Patients who underwent a rotator cuff repair surgery experienced pain relief and improved shoulder function, even after a tear recurrence, according to a new study presented at the 2009 American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine Specialty Day in Las Vegas. Rotator cuff tears can be caused by a traumatic event to the shoulder, such as a fall, or over a period of time due to wear and tear, which is more common in athletic individuals. The study evaluated a group of 15 patients approximately eight years after they received rotator cuff repair.

"We initially tested the patients at three years after their surgery and found that those with a recurrence of a tear were doing well," explains lead author, Christopher Dodson, MD, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City where 839 rotator cuff repairs were preformed last year. "The study analyzed whether having the original surgery produced any long-term benefits for the patient."

At an average of eight years after surgery, 15 patients completed four assessment surveys. Of those 15, 11 were reexamined with ultrasound testing. The test results indicated that those who with recurrent rotator cuff defects were still better off in terms of pain, function, and strength than they were before the rotator cuff was originally repaired. The study also found that the recurrent tears grew in size, but remained painless and did not affect function. None of the patients had needed further treatment or surgery, and none experienced any persistent shoulder pain.

"Our obvious concern for patients who have a recurrent rotator cuff defect after surgical repair is that symptoms may recur over time. Our study concluded that the patient will experience long-term benefit from surgery and remain asymptomatic, even if a recurrent defect is present. This is encouraging for both the surgeon and the patient undergoing rotator cuff repair."
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The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) is a world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication and fellowship, and includes national and international orthopaedic sports medicine leaders. The Society works closely with many other sports medicine specialists, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, family physicians, and others to improve the identification, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports injuries.

For more information, please contact AOSSM Director of Communications, Lisa Weisenberger, at 847/292-4900 or e-mail her at lisa@aossm.org. Additional information and press releases can be viewed in the newsroom on AOSSM's Web site at www.sportsmed.org

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

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