Emerging technologies for treating rotator cuff tears are now providing minimally invasive options for an expanding spectrum of patients. In the shoulder, superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) and balloon interposition procedures are performed arthroscopically, and now give more options to patients that previously could only be treated with a shoulder replacement procedure (arthroplasty). Placing biologic scaffolds and using the patients’ own growth factors, stem cell and platelet rich plasma treatments are believed to improve healing rates in certain groups of rotator cuff tear patients. Even the use of a sling is now often being questioned by medical professionals. As new and better fixation makes rotator cuff repairs more stable, in some cases a sling is no longer required after these procedures.  This gives providers the ability to keep patients increasingly active as they recover from surgery. Some non-operative treatments, such as ultrasound guided injections and the breaking up (trephination) of calcium deposits about the shoulder, are done in the physican’s office with little discomfort.

Medical databases often provide information to medical professionals when they are deciding how to counsel patients. These databases help physicians to give patients current information on the risks and benefits of surgical procedures.  For example, recent evaluations of over 50,000 shoulder patients from 2005-2016 show those patients who are insulin dependent or use tobacco have significantly more problems after surgery than matched controls (Slone, 2019). Also, risk profiles and strategies for handling opioid problems are also available from big data sets.  These can help patients avoid post-operative pain issues. 

The expanding role of minimally invasive technology makes the care of patients less disruptive to their busy lives and is good for all involved. In the history of medicine, we have more positive options than ever before. We hope we at Inland Orthopaedic can provide you helpful information, should you have any questions about the health of your shoulders.

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