Your doctor has recommended that you have surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. But what does that actually mean? Rotator cuff is the term given to describe a group of four tendons that work together to support and stabilize the shoulder joint. Each tendon connects muscle to bone. When a shoulder muscles contracts, it pulls on a tendon which in turn pulls on the upper arm bone and causes it to move.
When one or more of these tendons become damaged, the arm loses strength and mobility. So make sure that you ask your doctor to carefully explain the reasons behind this recommendation. Your Procedure: On the day of your operation, you will be asked to put on a surgical gown. You may receive a sedative by mouth and an intravenous line may be put in. You will then be transferred to the operating table.
If you are receiving general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will administer it by injection and using an inhalation mask. The surgeon will then apply an antiseptic solution to the skin and place a sterile drape around the operative site. To perform arthroscopic surgery your doctor will make three small, button-hole sized incisions in the area around the shoulder. An arthroscope is essentially a very small video camera that your doctor will use to guide the surgery.
Before your doctor can insert the arthroscope, the surgical team will inject a clear fluid into the joint. This fluid will inflate the interior space around the surgical site and will help your doctor by providing an unobstructed view and enough room in which to work. Your doctor will insert the arthroscope and inspect the surgical site. If he or she decides that the team can proceed with the arthroscopic procedure, other small surgical instruments will be inserted through the other small openings. First, your doctor will use a burr file to file away any rough edges on upper part of the shoulder bone called the acromion. Under the deltoid muscle lies the bursa, a protective sac that prevents the rotator cuff tendons and the shoulder muscles from rubbing against each other. Using a shaving instrument, you doctor will cut away the bursa to gain access to the damaged tendons.
Next, the surgeon will cut away any scar tissue or unhealthy tissue around the torn area. Using sutures, the tear can now be repaired. One instrument places the sutures. And then a second instrument fixes them in place. When your doctor is satisfied that all possible repair has been completed, the instruments are removed and the clear fluid is allowed to drain from the shoulder.
Finally, a sterile bandage is applied. In order to keep the shoulder muscle immobile while it heals, you will be given a sling to wear.
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