19 doctors weighed in:
How often do rotator cuff repairs fail?
19 doctors weighed in

Dr. Ty Endean
Orthopedic Surgery
4 doctors agree
In brief: Depends
That depends on many factors the age of the patient or the activity level of the patient come to mind first.
As a general rule rotator cuff reconstructions have a very small re-occurence rate.

In brief: Depends
That depends on many factors the age of the patient or the activity level of the patient come to mind first.
As a general rule rotator cuff reconstructions have a very small re-occurence rate.
Dr. Ty Endean
Dr. Ty Endean
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3 comments
Dr. Brian Badman
Not necessarily true. I agree that the failure rate depends on the size of the tear you are dealing with. The smaller the tear the better the heal rate. If you smoke then this is a big negative risk factor. Known risk factors include age greater than 55, smoking, and large tears. Large tears (more than 3 cm or two tendons) can carry a 40-50% failure rate. This does not necessarily equate to a poor outcome however. Small to medium cuff repairs can have future failures as high as 20-30%
Dr. Brian Badman
Generally speaking, if an orthopedic surgeon tells you that all their repairs heal and they have no failures I would advise the patient to seek another opinion. That surgeon is either not that busy or not honest. Unfortunately unless that person is using ultrasound to check the integrity of the repair or repeating MRI's we do not know the real answer but everyone busy enough has failures.
Dr. Qamar Khan
Pain Management
3 doctors agree
In brief: Hard to Say
New evidence is mounting that failure can be as high as 30-40%.
Still Rotator Cuff repair is standard of care if conservative management fails. Other options include platelet or even stem cell therapy. Check out Regenexx.Com

In brief: Hard to Say
New evidence is mounting that failure can be as high as 30-40%.
Still Rotator Cuff repair is standard of care if conservative management fails. Other options include platelet or even stem cell therapy. Check out Regenexx.Com
Dr. Qamar Khan
Dr. Qamar Khan
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Dr. Robert Coats II
Orthopedic Surgery
2 doctors agree
In brief: Depends
Rotator cuff repairs are very successful in improving pain and fucntion associated with rotator cuff tears.
Depending on if the repair is evaluated by mri, ultrasound, arthroscopy or clinically, will give you different rates of healing. What is known is that even tears that don't completely heal do much better than tears that are don't repaired. Small tears heal better than large tears.

In brief: Depends
Rotator cuff repairs are very successful in improving pain and fucntion associated with rotator cuff tears.
Depending on if the repair is evaluated by mri, ultrasound, arthroscopy or clinically, will give you different rates of healing. What is known is that even tears that don't completely heal do much better than tears that are don't repaired. Small tears heal better than large tears.
Dr. Robert Coats II
Dr. Robert Coats II
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Dr. Scott Graham
Orthopedic Surgery
In brief: Not very often
There are many variables that determine outcomes and success after surgery.
The main factors are how old the tear is, the retraction of the tear, the quality of the tissue, co-morbitities (diabetes and smoking), the skill of the surgeon and the post operative compliance of the patient. While surgery can fail, all of these issues come into play. Discuss these with your MD to have the best success.

In brief: Not very often
There are many variables that determine outcomes and success after surgery.
The main factors are how old the tear is, the retraction of the tear, the quality of the tissue, co-morbitities (diabetes and smoking), the skill of the surgeon and the post operative compliance of the patient. While surgery can fail, all of these issues come into play. Discuss these with your MD to have the best success.
Dr. Scott Graham
Dr. Scott Graham
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Dr. Vivek Agrawal
Orthopedic Surgery
In brief: Many Factors?
There are many factors to consider in defining the cause of a failed rotator cuff repair.
Failure rates have been reported from 11-94%. Learn more here: http://www.Theshouldercenter.Com/failed-rotator-cuff-repair.Htm.

In brief: Many Factors?
There are many factors to consider in defining the cause of a failed rotator cuff repair.
Failure rates have been reported from 11-94%. Learn more here: http://www.Theshouldercenter.Com/failed-rotator-cuff-repair.Htm.
Dr. Vivek Agrawal
Dr. Vivek Agrawal
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Dr. Allen Lu
Orthopedic Surgery
In brief: More than we think
Unfortunately, we are getting more and more evidence that rotator cuff repairs fail a lot more commonly than we previously thought.
Many patients feel perfectly fine after a repair, but will have a tear if examined with MRI or ultrasound. For small to medium tears, the retear rate can be close to 30%. For large tears, the retear rate is more than 50%! for now, we still believe in cuff repairs.

In brief: More than we think
Unfortunately, we are getting more and more evidence that rotator cuff repairs fail a lot more commonly than we previously thought.
Many patients feel perfectly fine after a repair, but will have a tear if examined with MRI or ultrasound. For small to medium tears, the retear rate can be close to 30%. For large tears, the retear rate is more than 50%! for now, we still believe in cuff repairs.
Dr. Allen Lu
Dr. Allen Lu
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Dr. Robert Lupo
Orthopedic Surgery
In brief: Depends
Depends on patient age, health, size of the tear, surgical repair , smoking, and appropriate rehabilitation.
It's like planting a tree... Healthy tree, good soil, sunlight, rain and planted correctly it will take root. But if any one of those elements is missing there may be a problem. Your doctor can help stratify you chances of repair.

In brief: Depends
Depends on patient age, health, size of the tear, surgical repair , smoking, and appropriate rehabilitation.
It's like planting a tree... Healthy tree, good soil, sunlight, rain and planted correctly it will take root. But if any one of those elements is missing there may be a problem. Your doctor can help stratify you chances of repair.
Dr. Robert Lupo
Dr. Robert Lupo
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Christopher Bailey
General Practice
In brief: Not Often
Usually rotator cuff surgeries are successful resulting in shoulder pain relief 3-6 months post-op.
Unsuccessful outcomes are more likely if your tear is severe, the rotator cuff was damaged or weak prior to the tear, you are older than 65 years old, you are a smoker and/or you do not follow your physical therapy regimen. Weakness and chronic pain may result if your tear does not fully heal.

In brief: Not Often
Usually rotator cuff surgeries are successful resulting in shoulder pain relief 3-6 months post-op.
Unsuccessful outcomes are more likely if your tear is severe, the rotator cuff was damaged or weak prior to the tear, you are older than 65 years old, you are a smoker and/or you do not follow your physical therapy regimen. Weakness and chronic pain may result if your tear does not fully heal.
Christopher Bailey
Christopher Bailey
Answer assisted by Christopher Bailey, Medical Student
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