July 13, 2018 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Arthroscopic Repair versus Mini-Open Repair

David M. Dare, M.D
David M. Dare, M.D


Question: I’m considering having my rotator cuff tear repaired. I have difficulty sleeping at night because of the pain. My surgeon has discussed doing this surgery through a small, open incision, but I have heard that this can be done arthroscopically. Is there an advantage to one technique over the other?


Answer: If you have already selected a surgeon, it is best to allow them to use the technique he or she is comfortable with to fit their lifestyle.

Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, which requires the use of a fiberoptic camera and instruments inserted through several small incisions about the width of a ballpoint pen tip, is challenging. It is important to choose a surgeon with specialized arthroscopic shoulder training who does these procedures frequently.

The advantages of an arthroscopic repair versus a mini open repair (approximately a two- to four-inch incision) are a lower risk of infection and stiffness, as well as less pain. In addition, viewing through the camera allows the surgeon to see and treat the entire joint, whereas other problems may be missed deep in the shoulder joint during an open technique.

An arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, in most cases, should take about 45 minutes to an hour. Excessive surgical time can increase the risk of potential surgical complications.

Dr. David Dare received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, his medical school degree from University of Virginia, his orthopaedic training at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and he spent an extra year of training while completing a fellowship in sports medicine at the #1 ranked Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Read more about Dr. Dare and his role as an Orthopedic Knee Surgeon in Holly Springs, NC.

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