Arthroscopic vs. Open Rotator Cuff Repairs
Rotator cuff injuries that require surgery can be treated via open or arthroscopic surgery with similar long-term results, but there are some key differences between the two. Which method is best for you is highly dependent on the specifics of your injury.
In a shoulder arthroscopy, two to three small (less than ¼” long) incisions are made around the shoulder, as opposed to one large incision with an open procedure. A small camera – the arthroscope – is inserted via one of the small incisions, giving the surgeon the ability to view and inspect the affected area for damage that is often missed by an MRI.
Arthroscopy is a popular option for the young and active who want to return to sports or their daily activities as quickly as possible, thanks to the shorter recovery and rehabilitation times afforded by the smaller incisions and minimally-invasive nature of the procedure. Arthroscopic surgery is also a popular option among the elderly who have exhausted nonsurgical treatments without success.
With respect to the shoulder joint, the primary limitation of arthroscopy is that it does not allow for the treatment of large rotator cuff injuries. Large tears or severe injuries tend to be better candidates for opens surgery.
Arthroscopies are typically outpatient procedures that do not require an overnight stay in the hospital for recovery.
Open surgeries utilize a single large incision in lieu of the smaller incisions made during arthroscopies. This is a more traditional form of surgery, and requires longer healing and rehabilitation times than an arthroscopic procedure. For this reason, we rarely conduct open shoulder surgeries unless absolutely required. Our team prefers a minimally invasive approach to rotator cuff repairs.
Because of the larger incision, there is a greater risk for infection afterwards. Some patients may be required to stay in the hospital for one to two nights post-procedure because of this.
Arthroscopies and open shoulder surgeries are both significant procedures. Be sure to take the time to speak with your doctor about which procedure is best for you, as well as the long-term benefits you can expect.
If you’re in need of rotator cuff repair, request an appointment online to meet with one of our shoulder specialists. Following diagnosis and treatment of your condition, our physicians may refer you to our skilled physical and occupational therapists. For more information, call us today at (904) 825-0540.
ALBERT VOLK, MD
Board certifications in Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. He specializes in an all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repair of the shoulder.