History of rotator cuff surgery

Pietro Randelli, Davide Cucchi, Vincenza Ragone, Laura de Girolamo, Paolo Cabitza, Mario Randelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Results: A wide variety of surgical options is available to reduce pain and restore function after rotator cuff tears. Rotator cuff repair surgical techniques evolved from open to arthroscopic and are still in development, with new fixation techniques and biological solutions to enhance tendon healing being proposed, tested in laboratory and in clinical trials. Although good or excellent results are often obtained, there is little evidence that the results of rotator cuff repair are improving with the decades. An overall high re-tear rate remains, but patients with failed rotator cuff repairs can experience outcomes comparable with those after successful repairs.

Purpose: Rotator cuff surgery is a rapidly evolving branch in orthopaedics, which has raised from a minor niche to a fully recognized subspecialty. This article summarizes its history, examining the development of its key principles and the technical advancements.

Methods: Literature was thoroughly searched, and few senior surgeons were interviewed in order to identify the significant steps in the evolution of rotator cuff surgery.

Conclusions: Rotator cuff repair techniques evolve at a fast pace, with new solutions often being used without solid clinical evidence of superiority. It is necessary to conduct high-level clinical studies, in which data relating to anatomical integrity, patient self-assessed comfort and function, together with precise description of patient’s condition and surgical technique, are collected.

Level of evidence: IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-362
Number of pages19
JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair
  • History of surgery
  • Open rotator cuff repair
  • Rotator cuff
  • Shoulder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Medicine(all)

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  • Cite this

    Randelli, P., Cucchi, D., Ragone, V., de Girolamo, L., Cabitza, P., & Randelli, M. (2014). History of rotator cuff surgery. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 23(2), 344-362. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-014-3445-z