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The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles which surround the shoulder joint. They are attached to the bone via tendons. These muscles and tendons help keep the shoulder in socket and help control shoulder movements. The tendons can be damaged or torn through general use, “wear and tear” or following an injury to the shoulder. Often it is the “supraspinatus” tendon at the top that becomes worn. If the tendons are damaged the shoulder can become weak and painful.

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A rotator cuff repair aims to re-attach the tendon(s) to the bone. The size of the tear will determine whether a full or partial repair can be achieved. The surgery may be completed arthroscopically (keyhole) or as an open procedure. This will be determined by your Surgeon.

Once the anaesthetic has fully worn off you will be encouraged to get up and mobilise, with help if needed, as soon as you are able. This will help prevent the risk of any post-operative complications.

  • Re-tear – Initially the repair is weaker than normal tendons and therefore there is a risk of re-tear. To minimise this risk there will be post-operative movement restrictions and your arm will be supported in a sling
  • Stiffness – There is usually some stiffness in your shoulder after the surgery. This is treated through the therapy exercise programme.
  • Infection – All possible precautions are taken to avoid infection during your operation. Your skin is thoroughly cleaned with a disinfectant solution and all clinical staff wear masks, sterile gowns and gloves throughout the procedure. If a superficial skin infection develops post-operatively it is usually treated with oral antibiotics
  • Nerve/blood vessel damage around the shoulder – The risk of this is less than 1%. If it happens we will investigate it carefully and take appropriate action to restore function
  • DeepVeinThrombosis(DVT) – A DVT is a blood clot in the deep veins of the calf or thigh. To reduce the risk of developing a DVT and to help with your circulation you will be given stockings and will be fitted with special inflatable pads to wear around your legs whilst in bed. These inflate automatically and provide pressure at regular intervals, thereby increasing blood circulation in your legs. You may require blood thinning medication which will be decided by your surgeon depending on your individual risk factors. The physiotherapist and nursing staff will show you how to exercise your legs and ensure that you start to move about quickly after your operation. If a clot develops and part of it breaks away, it can travel to the lungs where it is called a Pulmonary Embolus (PE). A PE is potentially life threatening and so everything is done to prevent a DVT from developing. We ask you to help avoid this complication by wearing your stockings at all times while you are in hospital except when you are bathing.
  • Sickness/nausea, heart problems, breathing problems and nervous system problems – relating to the anaesthetic

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