March 3, 2008
New procedure for shoulder injury repair
By kathi baker
A new repair technique allows a rotator cuff injury to heal more dependably, resulting in less likelihood for re-injury.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the ball of the shoulder joint. Tendons provide mobility, stability and strength but can weaken with age, overuse or injury and become vulnerable to a tear.
Significant pain, weakness or functional impairment can require surgery. Approximately half of rotator cuff repairs are done with a traditional “open” technique, using an incision that extends through the shoulder muscles.
More recently, surgeons have used a fiber optic camera, or arthroscope, to make small incisions that make recovery less painful and potentially shorter.
Emory orthopaedist and sports medicine specialist Spero Karas is using a new technique called the “double-row” arthroscopic repair, which secures the tendon to the bone at two sites rather than one.
“It is much stronger than a typical ‘single-row’ arthroscopic repair and does a better job restoring normal rotator cuff anatomy,” says Karas. “The operation itself takes a little longer to perform, about five minutes. However, the technique results in a much more substantial repair because there is actually more tendon attached to the bone.”