Rotator Cuff Repair on the Rise: December 29, 2012

Rotator cuff repair is on the rise, the increase being felt nationally and in Southwest Florida.

“One of the most commonly performed arthroscopic should surgeries nowadays, in deference to even 10 or 20 years ago, is arthroscopic rotator cuff reconstruction.  In the last 10-year period we’ve done approximately 3,000 of them here in our office,” says Dr. John Mehalik, orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

According to a study released by the national institutes of health, in the decade from 1996-2006 total rotator repairs increased 141%- the arthroscopic segment grew 600% far outpacing open surgery.

“This is different than arthroscopic surgery in general which can be used just simply for viewing or diagnostic purposes; this is really using it at an entirely different level to be able to reconstruct the body in ways that we used to have to use large open incisions to do,” says Dr. Mehalik.

The increase in surgery is due in large part to expectations of our graying population.

“It’s a very commonly performed procedure, particularly in active and aging adults, people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, that like to remain active in golf, playing tennis or other things,” says Dr. Mehalik.

The injury usually develops over a long period of time.

“It typically presents with activity-related discomfort, things with overhead activity, overhead lifting, repetitive functions, those sort of things.  But the most common presenting symptom is night pain,” says Dr. Mehalik.

The arthroscopic repair trims the damage tendon, then reattaches it to the bone with a suture anchors. It’s performed with slender tools, through a series of poke holes.

“Your body needs to grow it there.  The science shows that it takes somewhere between 21 and 28 days for your body to take that tendon and superficially mend it to bone,” says Dr. Mehalik.

The fast turnaround is quickly returning people back to their favorite pastimes.