OSF Medical Group

Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

One of the most important parts of the shoulder is the rotator cuff which is made up of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder in place.

A rotator cuff injury most often occurs because of wear and tear as a result of aging. An injury to the rotator cuff may also occur suddenly or develop due to repetitive use.

Some rotator cuff injuries may need to be repaired surgically. This may include repairing torn tendons or muscles in the shoulder or the shaving off of bone spurs that are pinching the shoulder.

The goal of rotator cuff repair surgery is to help restore the function and flexibility of the shoulder and to relieve the pain that cannot be controlled by other treatments.


The shoulder is a ball and socket joint consisting of three bones:

  • Upper arm bone (Humerus)
  • Shoulder blade (Scapula)
  • Collar bone (Clavicle)

The rotator cuff attaches the upper arm to the shoulder. The rotator cuff gets its name from the group of muscles and tendons that form a cuff around the shoulder joint.

The joint capsule is made up of a sheet of thin fibers which allow for a wide range of motion.

Fluid-filled sacs located between the rotator cuff and the shoulder blade, called Bursa, cushion and lubricate the shoulder.

This combination of bones, muscles, and tendons allows you to lift your arm, reach up, and throw.


  • Recurrent pain, especially with certain movements or activities
  • Pain that prevents sleeping on the injured side
  • Grating or cracking sounds when moving the arm
  • Limited ability to move the arm
  • Muscle weakness

Preparing for Rotator Cuff Repair

The staff will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have prior to surgery.

You may receive a physical examination, including blood and urine tests, to ensure you are in good health for the procedure.

Please make sure to bring a complete list of all medications and herbal supplements you are currently taking with you to your appointment.

Prior to your surgery, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications or quit smoking.

What to Expect

Rotator cuff repair is generally performed while you are asleep under general anesthesia.

You will be asked to remove clothing and will be given a gown to wear. An IV may be started in your arm or hand and you will be positioned on the operating table. The anesthesiologist will continuously monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level during the surgery.

The skin over the surgical site will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution. The doctor will make an incision in the shoulder area. The arthroscope will be inserted through the incision. Other incisions may be made to introduce other small grasping, probing, or cutting tools.

Injured tendons and muscles will be repaired or replaced with a graft tendon from another part of the body. Bone spurs (if present) will be shaved.

The incision(s) will be closed with stitches or surgical staples. A sterile bandage/dressing will be applied.


After surgery you will be taken to the recovery room for observation and the circulation and sensation of the arm will be monitored. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room or discharged to your home.

You may be given an immobilizer or sling before you go home.

Once you are home, it is important to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Your doctor will give you specific bathing instructions. The stitches or surgical staples will be removed during a follow-up visit.

To help reduce swelling, you may be asked to apply an ice bag to the shoulder several times per day for the first few days. You should keep the sling or immobilizer on as directed by your doctor.

Your doctor will arrange for an exercise program with a physical therapist to help you regain muscle strength, flexibility, and function of your shoulder.


Arrangements for a follow-up appointment with our staff will be made upon discharge.