Rotator cuff tears are very common. Rotator cuff repairs are the fifth most common surgery performed the United States. Most tears are degenerative and occur with greater frequency in patients over the age of 50. They can, however, occur from traumatic events such as falls or dislocations.
Most rotator cuff tears occur when the tendon or tendons pull away or avulses from the bony attachment at the greater tuberosity. The tear pattern can vary greatly from patient to patient. Most rotator cuff repairs are performed with anchors that are placed into the greater tuberosity. The sutures from those anchors are then passed through the rotator cuff tendons and tied down to the tuberosity bone. This provides very secure fixation. A demonstration of this typical rotator cuff repair can be seen at the bottom of our Rotator Cuff page, here.
The following is a video of an atypical rotator cuff tear where the rotator cuff tendon tore within its mid substance. These types of tears are less common and can be much more difficult to treat as we are not able to use anchors in this situation. However with arthroscopic techniques we are able to achieve a good repair with a very good clinical result.