The operation involves releasing and reattatching the rotator cuff tendon and muscle units back to their bony insertion. This may be done through either a keyhole(arthroscopic) or mini open approach. The tendons are usually reattached to the bone using anchors with sutures attatched that are screwed into the bone to provide secure purchase.
You are put to sleep under general anaesthetic. In addition the anaesthetist may well put your arm to sleep via a local anaesthetic block. This may mean you will wake up with a numb and tingly arm, which will wear of during the following day.
The operation can take anything from 40 mins to 2hrs depending on the difficulty of the tear.
You will be in hospital for one night if you are normally fit and well.
The risks of the operation are small, but need to be understood. As with all operations there are risks of infection and damaging nerves and vessels. The risks of these are less than 1% for most fit healthy people. There is a risk of stiffness after the operation, and you will be working hard with your physiotherapist to prevent this. There is a risk of the cuff retearing after the operation, and this depends very much on the size and age of the tear. All these risks will be discussed with you in more detail on the day of surgery.
Following the operation you will be prescribed regular pain medication which you will need to take for the first few weeks. You may use ice packs in towels and plastic bags initially to help with pain relief, but don't get the wound wet for the first 2 weeks. Generally speaking stitches will be removed at 10 days post op at your GP surgery or treating hospital.You will see most of your improvement in the first few months following surgery, but it may take up to 9 months post surgery to see the end point in your recovery with the more complex tears.
It is likely your arm will be in a sling following cuff repair, for anything between 3-6 weeks, depending on your tear. The exact post operative regime will be discussed with you by your surgeon after operation. If sitting around during the day it is reasonable to remove the sling, but it should be worn on trips out and at night. It is imprtant to attend to armpit hygeine during these periods with regular washing and dry pads, though avoid deodorant sprays and talc near the wound for the first 2 weeks.
Physiotherapy will begin on the first day after surgery, and may then continue with a local physiotherapist of your choice. The majority of your exercises will be done at home by you. Further information on this can be viewed by following the link Cuff Physiotherapy
You will be reviewed by Mr. Harper at 2 weeks following surgery in the Outpatient deapartment. His secretary will make this appointment with you.
It is likely you will be off work from 1-3 months depending on your job, and you will be off moderate manual work for 4 months. Its unlikely you will play golf for 3-4 months so you will have to put your membership fees on hold!.
You can start driving 2-3 weks after you come out of the sling.