Impact of Postoperative Management on Outcomes and Healing of Rotator Cuff Repairs

Investigator: C. Benjamin Ma, MD
Sponsor: Vanderbilt University

Location(s): United States


Rotator cuff tears are seen in 40% of subjects over age 50 57, with a prevalence known to increase with each decade of life 51. Each year rotator cuff disorders lead to 4.5 million physician visits, 40,000 inpatient surgeries, and 250,000 outpatient surgeries with costs of $17,427 per patient in 2004. As the population ages, the number of rotator cuff repair surgeries is increasing; in New York State, rotator cuff repairs increased by 50% over a 5 years span 48. Unfortunately, surgically repaired rotator cuff tears fail in at least 20% and up to 94% of individuals 3, 9, 13, 20, 28, 40, 52, 58. While many non-modifiable variables have been associated with failure of repair, postoperative rehabilitation is a modifiable variable that has received little attention. The investigators propose a multicenter randomized controlled trial to study one important strategy for postoperative rehabilitation: early versus delayed onset of physical therapy. This pilot study will enroll patients with isolated supraspinatus tears who undergo a standard surgical repair technique. The investigators hypothesize that delaying the onset of physical therapy will improve healing and patient outcomes. Our primary outcome variable is the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff (WORC) Index (a disease specific validated outcome measure). Because outcome measures may not always correlate with healing of rotator cuff repairs 50, our secondary outcome measure will be healing based on MRI scans 12 months after surgery.