My Rotator Cuff Surgery Failed; I’m Seeking Information on Revision Rotator Cuff Surgery. Can You Help?

Dear Dr. Millett,

I injured my shoulder last summer and was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff. It was a very serious injury, and I had surgery and it appears that the surgery did not take. I am seeking information on what my options are with a failed rotator cuff repair. I have read about revision rotator cuff surgery and I’m seeking further help. What are my treatment options?

Carl M.

Dear Carl,

Rotator cuff surgeries for a rotator cuff injury do at times fail for a variety of different reasons. It is important to seek the care of experienced specialist in a situation such as yours. It is also important to figure out why the tendon failed to heal. If the torn rotator cuff tendon is still repairable, as determined by an MRI, you may consider a revision rotator cuff surgery in which the tendon is reattached surgically. If however the tendon is of poor quality, you may need to consider other options. Sometimes we augment the repair with a collagen patch to reinforce the repair. The collagen patch serves to provide additional support for the repair and helps new cells to heal the damaged area of the tendon. In other cases of massive irreparable tears, one may need to consider a tendon transfer surgery. This is usually considered the last resort for repeated rotator cuff injuries or irreparable tears and can yield positive results. During a tendon transfer for rotator cuff repair, another healthy tendon and its muscle are moved from one location to another to substitute for the chronically torn rotator cuff tendons. The tendon transfer for rotator cuff repair is completed principally to alleviate pain and secondarily so that lost function of the shoulder can be regained. There are a number of criteria that a patient must meet to be permitted to receive this surgery. Some of the criteria include good physical health, strong bones, strong muscles to transfer and an understanding and willingness to follow the strict rehabilitation protocol that is necessary.

For more information on revision rotator cuff surgery, please call my office or look at my website where additional resources can be found.