Risks of Rotator Cuff Surgery

Modern techniques do minimize risks, but cannot eliminate them completely. The most significant risks of rotator cuff surgery include, but are not limited to, the following:

Irreparable the rotator cuff tendon. Unfortunately, longstanding tears may not be
able to be repaired despite out best attempts. The inability to obtain or maintain a durable re-
paired tendon may cause ongoing pain and the need for revision surgery may occur.

Stiffness of the joint. With arthroscopic, the risk of severe longstanding stiffness is rare but still occurs in 1/20. Stiffness is usually temporary but may take 6 –12 months to resolve. Occasionally further surgery may be required to release tight scar tissues.

Infection. With arthroscopic, as opposed to open surgery, the incidence is around 1/1000.
Antibiotics at the time of surgery are frequently used to help prevent infection. If infection occurs this may require antibiotics and occasionally further surgery.

Re-tear of the repaired rotator cuff. Especially large, chronic tears have very poor healing rates. Further surgery may be required to re-repair the tendons if they fail to heal, especially in an injury occurs during the healing phase. Failure of the hardware may occur if the tendons do not heal and there may be a need for additional surgery to remove these.

There are also risks associated with anesthesia but these are extremely rare.
The general risks of a procedure include:

  • Small areas of the lungs may collapse
  • Clots in the legs with pain and swelling. Rarely part of this clot may break off.
  • A heart attack or a stroke.
  • However death from these complications is extremely rare.