Arthroscopic techniques about the shoulder have evolved greatly over the last 10 years. In my sports medicine practice, the great majority of procedures about the shoulder are done through arthroscopic techniques. A high percentage of these are arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs.
In reviewing the literature, long term studies have supported excellent outcomes using arthroscopic techniques. Benefits include decreased surgery time, excellent visualization of injured tissues, and decreased post operative morbidity. By using small, simple incisions, postoperative pain control is more effective especially in an outpatient setting. With arthroscopic techniques surgeons are also able to address any intra-articular pathology at the same setting. This can include problems with labral tears and biceps tendon pathology as well.
Open or mini open procedures involve bigger incisions which make postoperative pain control much more of a challenge. While long term results for both open and arthroscopic procedures tend to be equal in addition to the length of rehabilitation, arthroscopic patients tend to tolerate rehabilitation better.