Orthopedic surgeons at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County are the first in New Jersey to now offer the Rotation Medical Rotator Cuff System, a new implant to treat a common source of shoulder pain and disability.
The minimally invasive “bioinductive” implant is designed to foster natural regeneration of additional tendon tissue, which could allow for faster healing and a decreased chance of future tendon tearing.
“Up until now, rotator cuff repair procedures did not improve the underlying tendon tissue structure,” explained Sean McMillan, DO, FAOAO, chief of Orthopedic Sports Medicine at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County. “Surgery only allowed for torn tendons to be reconnected to bone. A large number of repaired tendons deteriorated over time and were prone to re-tears. With the bioinductive implant, we are able to induce new tissue growth, enabling us to promote healing and potentially prevent the progression of rotator cuff disease. There has been a strong clinical need for a solution and this new technology is a great benefit to our patients.”
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that hold the arm in its shoulder joint and help the shoulder to move. Rotator cuff tendon tears affect more than 4 million Americans annually. Injuries occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports. The risk of injury increases with age. Tears that start out small, over time, often develop into larger, more painful and debilitating tears due to continuing degeneration of the torn tendon.
The three techniques most commonly used to repair tears are traditional open repair, arthroscopic (minimally invasive), or mini-open repair. The type of repair depends on the size of the tear, the patient’s anatomy and the quality of the tendon tissue and bone. The Rotation Medical Cuff System is exclusively used for arthroscopic and mini-open rotator cuff procedures.
Dr. Mc Millan says people with high-grade partial tears—often weekend warriors and laborers— stand to benefit the greatest from this technology. “Traditionally, symptomatic high-grade tears are reattached to the bone using suture anchors. Recovery could take six months or more. However, through the science of the Rotation Medical Rotator Cuff System, these high-grade tears can now be repaired arthroscopically. We are seeing patients return to function in nearly half the time.”
Here’s how the implant works: The injured tendon is identified arthroscopically and the surgeon prepares the remaining rotator cuff for the graft. Using a tiny incision, the orthopedic surgeon places the bioinductive tissue implant over the injured tendon. Dissolvable sutures are then placed along the perimeter of the implant to secure it to the native rotator cuff tendon. Using arthroscopy, the procedure takes approximately 25-30 minutes to perform, said Dr. McMillan.
The Rotation Medical bioinductive implant is derived from bovine Achilles tendon and undergoes a proprietary process. It is reconstituted to achieve high porosity and purity. The physical and chemical properties are specifically designed to allow blood vessels to infiltrate the porous implant. As a result, new tendon tissue is produced. Increased tendon strength comes from the induced, remodeled tissue. The implant gradually absorbs within six months, leaving a new layer of tendon tissue to augment the existing tendon biologically.
“My patients who have had the implant have fared better than expected,” said Dr. McMillan. “Overall, there is about 30 percent decrease in pain level and a 70 percent increase in range of motion, particularly in the early post-operative period. I’ve found the implant greatly helps facilitate healing and rehabilitation.”
Complete recovery usually takes two to three months of physical therapy, which plays a vital role in regaining shoulder strength and motion. With the implant, Dr. McMillan says his patients have progressed through rehabilitation rapidly and he often has to hold them back from doing too much too soon.
The implant can be used for both previously treated and untreated patients.
“The bioinductive implant supports our goal to help improve patients’ quality of life,” said Dr. McMillan. “The ability to intervene earlier may help many patients avoid a lengthy rehabilitation and return to their routines sooner. This advanced technology provides hope to the many people suffering from rotator cuff tendon tears. It’s exciting to offer patients this option.”