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The Rotator Cuff Procedure Explained

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If you have been living with a damaged rotator cuff in your shoulder, then you should consider having it surgically corrected. Rotator cuff surgery is very effective at correcting the root cause of problems in the shoulder joint and greatly reducing pain.

Rotator cuff repair surgery generally involves one or all of the following procedures:

  • shoulder joint debridement
  • rotator cuff tendon repair
  • subacromial decompression

Here is some information about each of these aspects of rotator cuff surgical procedures to help you better understand the process:

Shoulder Joint Debridement

Surgical debridement is the process of removing any damaged tissue from your shoulder joint. Removing the damaged tissue is important to improve the potential healing of the remaining healthy tissues. Surgical debridement is performed using lasers and traditional surgical tools.

Rotator Cuff Tendon Repair

If your shoulder's rotator cuff tendon is damaged, then your orthopedic surgeon will surgically repair it. To repair the tendon, it will be sewn together in any damaged areas, and then it will be surgically reattached back to the top of the bone in your upper arm.

Subacromial Decompression

Excessive rotator cuff area pain is often caused by bone spurs that have formed on the underside of your shoulder blade. During subacromial decompression, your orthopedic surgeon will use surgical tools to shave off the bone spurs to allow more room for your rotator cuff tendon to move around in your shoulder joint.

Anesthesia Used During Rotator Cuff Surgery

Rotator cuff surgery is performed using two different types of anesthesia:

  1. a nerve block
  2. general anesthesia

The amount of damage that needs to be surgically corrected will determine the type of anesthesia used. Additionally, your comfort is also taken into account. If you do not want to be awake while your orthopedic surgeon works on your shoulder, then they will use general anesthesia.

Surgical Technique Used During Rotator Cuff Surgery

Rotator cuff surgery can be performed using one of two different surgical techniques:

  1. arthroscopically
  2. open procedure

For arthroscopic surgery, your orthopedist will perform the necessary surgical procedures using specialized equipment that is inserted into your shoulder through small incisions on your skin. Arthroscopic surgery is performed in situations where there is not excessive damage, and it results in faster healing times with less post-surgical pain.

For an open procedure, your shoulder will be opened with an incision and all of the corrective work will be performed by the surgeon and then your shoulder will be closed and allowed to heal.


By having a clear understanding of how rotator cuff surgery is performed, you can make a more informed decision about having the surgery to fix your damaged rotator cuff. If you have additional questions about repairing your shoulder's damage, then you should contact an orthopedic surgeon, such as those at Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC, for a consultation appointment.