NYM Uses Arthroscopic Surgery To Repair Rotator Cuff Tears

Jun 20, 2006

  June 22, 2006

Raising the Bar: NYM Uses Arthroscopic Surgery To Repair Rotator Cuff Tears


A rotator cuff tear is a common shoulder injury so painful that it interferes with daily activities such as lifting, reaching and even sleeping. At New York Methodist Hospital, orthopedic surgeons can treat a painful rotator cuff tear using a minimally invasive procedure that takes only 90 minutes, yet offers a lifetime of pain-free shoulder movement. NYM is one of a select group of Hospitals that perform this procedure using the modern technology and highly qualified, specialty physicians needed to perform the complicated surgery.

An individual with a rotator cuff tear  a torn tendon surrounding the upper half of the capsule of the shoulder joint experiences pain when reaching backwards and above the head, and has recurrent weakness and stiffness in the arm. There are three main causes for rotator cuff tears, said Victor Sasson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee and shoulder surgery at NYM, who performs the procedure. Patients between the ages of 30 and 50 are often injured through participating in athletics such as baseball or tennis, or at work in a profession where there is frequent reaching above the head like painting or carpentry, he said. Patients older than 50 often experience a rotator cuff tear due to general wear and tear of the shoulder, which causes a breakdown of collagen the protein substance that supports the skin, tendon, bone, cartilage and connective tissue.

When a patient comes to us with shoulder pain, we do an extensive history and physical exam to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain, said Dr. Sasson. If it is determined that a rotator cuff tear is responsible, physicians at NYM may perform total arthroscopic surgery, an alternative to open shoulder surgery. Arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery uses mini-fiber-optic video and surgical instruments to make three to four tiny incisions in the shoulder (open shoulder surgery requires incisions that are four to five inches long.) With arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery there is less scaring and the deltoid, the muscle that covers shoulder joint, is left intact which allows for quicker and easier rehabilitation, said Enrique Monsanto, M.D., a physician specializing in hand and upper extremity surgery at NYM. The surgery is performed at the Hospital in an outpatient setting and does not require an overnight stay. Unlike open shoulder surgery, where a patient is given general anesthesia during the procedure, regional anesthesia is used during arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery allowing for a more comfortable and less complicated postoperative experience, he said.

While recovery from the Hospital procedure takes only a few hours, patients participate in physical therapy, on an outpatient basis, for two to three months following the surgery. Depending on the extent of the rehabilitation therapy, patients are usually able to return to work and/or sports within three to six months a shorter period of time than if they had the conventional, open shoulder surgery, said Dr. Sasson.

We are very fortunate at NYM to have the tools necessary to perform the procedure, said Dr. Sasson. Offering arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery allows us to alleviate patients pain and help them return to their active lifestyles in a relatively short time.

For more information, please call New York Methodist Hospital''s Physician Referral Service at 718-499-CARE.


Victor Sasson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon who performs arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery at New York Methodist Hospital, examines a patient''s shoulder x-rays.