Statin Use Could Help Improve Outcomes of Rotator Cuff Surgery in Patients with High Cholesterol

    Patients with higher cholesterol levels face a significantly greater risk for failure of arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, but the use of statins to lower the cholesterol level could diminish the risk, according to research presented at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

    “The study found an association between the use of statin lipid lowering agents and mitigation of the risk for revision surgery, even in patients with elevated cholesterol levels,” said Brian C. Werner, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

    He and his colleagues reviewed a private insurer patient database of nearly 31,000 patients who underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair from 2007 to 2014. Patients were divided into normal, moderate, and high cholesterol groups based on their total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and triglyceride levels. The patient groups were further analyzed based on whether they took statins before and after surgery.

    Among the findings of the research:

    • The rate of revision rotator cuff surgery was significantly increased in patients with moderate or high total cholesterol and LDL levels compared with patients with normal levels.
    • Among the patients with moderate or high cholesterol, those who were not taking statins before or after surgery had significantly higher rates of revision surgery.
    • Patients taking statins prior to or after surgery did not have higher rates of revision surgery, even if their cholesterol levels were high.
    • Patient triglyceride levels had no impact on rotator cuff surgery outcomes.

    “Additional study of the association between statins and rotator cuff surgical outcomes is encouraged to determine if improved cholesterol control can improve clinical outcomes following arthroscopic rotator cuff repair,” Dr. Werner said.


    Cancienne JM, Brockmeier SF, Rodeo SA, Werner BC. Perioperative serum lipid status and statin use affect revision surgery rate after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, March 14-18, 2017, in San Diego, California.