Open, Mini-open, and All-Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery: Indications and Implications for Rehabilitation

Rush University, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Chicago, IL, USA.
Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (Impact Factor: 3.01). 03/2009; 39(2):81-9. DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2009.2918
Source: PubMed


Rotator cuff tears lead to debilitating shoulder dysfunction and impairment. The goal of rotator cuff repair is to eliminate pain and improve function with increased shoulder strength and range of motion. The clinical outcomes of the surgical methods of rotator cuff repair (open, mini-open, and all-arthroscopic cuff repair) vary, as each method provides an array of advantages and disadvantages. Although the open surgical technique has long been considered the gold standard of rotator cuff repair, surgeons are becoming more adept at decreasing patient morbidity through decreased surgical trauma from an all-arthroscopic approach. In addition to a surgery-specific rotator cuff rehabilitation program, effective communication, and coordination of care by the physical therapist and surgeon are essential in optimal patient education and outcomes. In the ideal situation, a very well-educated therapist who has great communication with the treating surgeon can mobilize the shoulder early, re-establish scapulothoracic function safely and minimize the risk of stiffness and retear, while facilitating return to function. Treatment options can be individualized according to patient age, size and chronicity of tear, surgical approach, and fixation method. We recommend that patients who have undergone an all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repair undergo an accelerated postoperative rehabilitation program. A rational approach to therapy involves early, safe motion to allow optimal tendon healing, yet maintenance of joint mobility with minimal stress. As the field of orthopedics and, particularly, rotator cuff repair continues to develop with new technologies, the patient, physical therapist, and doctor need to work together to ensure optimal outcomes and patient satisfaction. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapy, Level 5.

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