Limited Shoulder Function Is Leading Factor for Rotator Cuff Surgery

    For patients with rotator cuff tears, improving shoulder function is the most important reason for moving forward with surgical repair, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting in San Diego.

    The study authors also found that these patients consistently experienced significant functional improvements and relief from pain following arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (ARCR).

    “Among the many reasons patients in our study chose surgery, 81% reported a desired return to normal shoulder function,” said lead author Danielle Weekes, MD, from The Rothman Institute. “At 6 months post-operation, American Shoulder and Elbow Society (ASES) Scores in the group improved overall from 42.6 to 77, showing that patients’ objectives were met.”

    The study enrolled 149 patients planning to undergo ARCR. A questionnaire was provided to determine influences on the surgery decision-making process. Other key factors leading to patients opting for repair included:

    • Surgeon recommendation
    • Daily chronic pain
    • Concern for tear enlargement
    • Inability to sleep

    Six months after surgery, male patients had a better average functional outcome score: 81.4 versus 69.9 for female patients, the researchers found. In addition, preoperative opioid use significantly correlated with poorer functional outcomes.

    “While our study showed outcomes of ACRC are not determined by preoperative decision-making factors on the part of the patient, it is important for physicians to be mindful of what patients hope to achieve through surgery,” Dr. Weekes said. “This research can contribute to making the most informed clinical treatment recommendations.”