Rotator Cuff Repair: Analyzing Trends

Arthroscopic and open repair of rotator cuff tears have been established in published research to have comparable clinical results, with each having distinct advantages and disadvantages. Some studies have looked at geographic variation in the number of rotator cuff surgical procedures performed. Others have explored variations in what surgeons deemed to be indications for rotator cuff surgery. Despite many investigations having addressed repair techniques, indications for surgery, and outcomes in selected patients, little has been reported on recent trends of rotator cuff repair use nationwide. In a study published in the February 2012 Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Alexis C. Colvin, MD, and colleagues examined the rates of medical visits for rotator cuff pathology and for open and arthroscopic rotator cuff repair between 1996 and 2006 throughout the United States. The setting where the surgery was performed and the characteristics of patients—including age, sex, and comorbidities—were also analyzed in the study. “We wanted to determine if surgeons are now performing more arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs than in years past and where these repairs are being performed,” explains Dr. Colvin. “We also wanted to learn more about the characteristics of patients who had surgery in inpatient versus outpatient settings, surgical times associated with these procedures, and trends in anesthesia use.” Rotator Cuff Repairs on the Rise According to findings, the volume of all rotator cuff repairs increased by 141% from 1996 to 2006 (Table). While the number of arthroscopic procedures increased by 600%, the number of open repairs increased by only 34% during the time period assessed. “The number of open repairs increased for patients who were younger than...