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Operative treatment of chronic ruptures of the rotator cuff of the shoulder

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The results of 63 operative repairs of chronic tears of the rotator cuff in 61 patients are reviewed retrospectively; the mean follow-up was 32.7 months. Fifty-four patients presented with symptoms of persistent pain and seven patients with gross loss of movement. All the patients had failed to respond to conservative treatment. Results were assessed in terms of relief of pain, restoration of movement, the patients' ability to return to work and whether they were satisfied with the results. Overall, a good result in terms of relief of pain was achieved in 40 shoulders. In 31 shoulders (30 with pain and one without pain) the operation included particular measures to decompress the subacromial space; 26 of the patients achieved relief of pain which was significantly better than in those patients whose operation did not include a decompression. The complications and failures are discussed. It is suggested that operative repair of the chronically torn rotator cuff of the shoulder is a worthwhile operation and that the operation should include an adequate decompression of the subacromial space.

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