Rotator Cuff Repair

The rotator cuff is a group of 4 tendons (the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor) that surround the top of the arm bone (humerus) where it meets the cup of the shoulder joint (glenoid) and help to stabilize the shoulder joint as well as abducting and rotating the arm. When these ligaments are damaged, arthroscopic rotator cuff repair can help restore function and eliminate pain.

Damage to the rotator cuff can occur as the result of a traumatic event in young patients or simply due to degeneration of the tendon tissue in older patients. When the rotator cuff is torn, a variety of treatment options may be considered based on the type, location and extent of the tear. These options may be non-operative, typically a several week course of physical therapy aimed at reducing pain and inflammation while restoring full range of motion and strengthening both the rotator cuff and muscles surrounding the shoulder blade. Other tears may require surgical intervention in the form of an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. This involves inserting a camera as well as a series of small tools through portals in the shoulder.

During surgery, the doctor will first examine your shoulder joint to visualize the torn part of the rotator cuff before cleaning out the torn tissue and inserting anywhere from 1 to 4 composite, bio-absorbable anchors into the top of the humerus. These anchors are made of tricalcium phosphate (coral) and are gradually absorbed by the body over time, long after the tear has healed. Sutures attached to these anchors are then passed through the torn rotator cuff and used to secure it back in place. These operations will typically include a procedure known as a subacromial decompression, in which the surgeon will shave off the underside of the acromion (the pointy bone on the outside of your shoulder). This helps to free up extra space for the rotator cuff and essentially bathes the new repair in bone marrow- your body’s own stem cells.

Partial RCR

Rotator Cuff Repair

RCR with biceps tenodesis



Research and Patient Education

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections

Currently, Dr. Spencer and his research assistant are awaiting publication of a study examining the effectiveness of Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for specific types of partial rotator cuff tears. Head over to our Research page for more information!

A top surgeon in Tennessee, Dr. Spencer utilizes a variety of treatment methods to address shoulder problems. If you need an appointment, visit our Homepage to request an appointment at one of our Knoxville clinics!

Additional information on PRP is available here.