Vail health: What is the best procedure to treat rotator cuff tears? |

Vail health: What is the best procedure to treat rotator cuff tears?

Special to the Daily

Rotator cuff tears and injuries are among the most common causes of shoulder pain and weakness. While more than 2 million people in the U.S. visit their primary care physician with this injury in a given year, there is hope on the horizon.

Researchers at The Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) in Vail recently completed a study on the best procedures for treating and repairing massive rotator cuff tears. A massive rotator cuff tear, according to The Institute, is defined as a tear greater than 5 centimeters in length or those that involve multiple rotator cuff tendons.

“The study offers orthopedic surgeons better insight and more precise surgical techniques to treat serious rotator cuff injuries,” said Dr. Peter Millett, director of shoulder surgery for The Steadman Clinic and a pioneer in the development of rotator cuff surgery. “This new data will translate into better protocols and outcomes for the patient.”

During the study, which was performed in Vail in the new biomechanical testing labs on the SPRI campus, 20 specimens were evaluated. Each had suffered a massive rotator cuff tear and were grouped according to the procedure they had, including: a single-row rotator cuff repair, a double-row repair, and an augmented double-row repair, which uses collagen bio-implants (patch) to help provide healing tissue a secure scaffold to grow into. The fourth group that was examined as part of the study consisted of intact, non-injured rotator cuffs.

Scientists tested each massive rotator cuff tear repair using state-of-the-art biomechanical science technology that applied pressure, movement and motion on each specimen. This technique allowed researchers to visibly see which type of repair had the greatest long-term success. The study concluded that double-row and augmented double-row surgical procedures yield stronger, longer lasting outcomes than traditional single row approaches. As a result of this study, scientists were able to develop a unique protocol that simulates a typical rehabilitation regimen following massive rotator cuff tears.

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“The study sheds light on several theories surrounding the best procedures for repairing massive rotator cuff tears,” said Coen Wijdicks, Ph.D., the director of the Biomechanics Research Department for SPRI. “It showed us that for massive rotator cuff tears where the double-row and the augmented double-row techniques were used, repairs endured significantly more cycles to failure and had higher maximum load ranges. It was also determined that the specimens that had these procedures actually had rotator cuffs that were as strong and healthy as intact rotator cuffs.”

The Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) is dedicated to keeping people of all ages physically active through orthopaedic research and education in arthritis, healing, rehabilitation, and injury prevention. Founded in 1988 by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman as the Steadman Sports Medicine Foundation, the charitable organization has influenced the practice of orthopedics throughout the world.

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