Complications

After rotator cuff surgery, a small percentage of patients experience complications. In addition to the risks of surgery in general, such as blood loss or problems related to anesthesia, complications of rotator cuff surgery may include:

 

  • Nerve injury. This typically involves the nerve that activates your shoulder muscle (deltoid).
  • Infection. Patients are given antibiotics during the procedure to lessen the risk for infection. If an infection develops, an additional surgery or prolonged antibiotic treatment may be needed.
  • Deltoid detachment. During an open repair, this shoulder muscle is detached to provide better access to the rotator cuff. It is stitched back into place at the end of the procedure. It is very important to protect this area after surgery and during rehabilitation to allow it to heal.
  • Stiffness. Early rehabilitation lessens the likelihood of permanent stiffness or loss of motion. Most of the time, stiffness will improve with more aggressive therapy and exercise.
  • Tendon re-tear. There is a chance for re-tear following all types of repairs. The larger the tear, the higher the risk of re-tear. Patients who re-tear their tendons usually do not have greater pain or decreased shoulder function. Repeat surgery is needed only if there is severe pain or loss of function.