Gender and rotator cuff repair

Gender Differences Revealed in Rotator Cuff Repair Recovery

There are numerous treatments available to treat issues with the shoulder. One of the most common procedures carried out on patients is rotator cuff repair. Now, research has revealed that gender can play a role in the outcome of the surgery.

Here, we’ll look at what the new research has revealed and other factors that can impact the success rate of the procedure.

What is rotator cuff repair?

Rotator cuff repair is a surgical procedure which aims to repair torn tendons within the shoulder. There are two main methods that can be used, including open incisions and shoulder arthroscopy. The latter tends to be the preferred method, particularly for mild to moderate tears.

The procedure is typically carried out under general anaesthetic and the method will depend upon the severity of the injury. In a typical procedure, the tendons are re-attached to the bone using small anchors, which have sutures running through them. These then repair the tendon to the bone.

It can be a fairly intensive surgical procedure with a long recovery time; post-surgery recovery depends mainly on the severity of the tear being mended, but another potential factor – gender – has now been identified.

How does gender impact the procedure?

A new cohort study was carried out to compare the outcomes of the procedure in men and women. It included 283 patients in total, 130 of which were female and 153 were male.

All patients underwent a primary arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. A total of 275 patients completed a one-year follow-up. It was discovered that women generally reported higher levels of pain after two weeks, six weeks and three months. This also meant that the use of pain medications to control the pain was higher in women.

Additionally, women also reported more restricted movement in the shoulder after the procedure. Interestingly, there were no sex-related differences reported after one year. So, the study shows that women tend to suffer more from the procedure in the first few months after a rotator cuff repair.

What other factors can impact the results?

As well as gender, there are other factors which can impact the results of a rotator cuff repair. These include:

  • Age
  • Size and severity of the tear
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes

Older patients tend to experience more negative results, as do smokers. There have been many studies conducted which have shown smoking can greatly reduce healing and promote infection.

Obviously, the size and severity of the tear will also determine how successful rotator cuff repair surgery is. Larger, more severe tears are trickier to fix and can require more extensive surgery.

These are just some of the main risk factors patients need to be aware of. Before undergoing a rotator cuff repair, it’s important for patients to discuss the procedure and be aware of the risks involved. This latest study enables shoulder specialists to provide more accurate information over the risks of the surgery for women. It also gives patients more of an idea of what to expect from the procedure. If you have further questions for the London Shoulder Specialists, call 0203 195 2442.