When It Comes To Rotator Cuff Surgery, Less Is More
Robert Degregorio bought a new house and proceeded to paint all the ceilings and doors himself. No small accomplishment for anyone, but for Robert, who had been in pain for years, this household endeavor represented a new life – free of the pain he had before rotator cuff surgery performed by Dr. Tahsin Ergin just over a year ago.
As Dr. Ergin explains, he utilized a method performed by very few surgeons that is minimally invasive and entirely arthroscopic. The ArthroTunneler™ TunnelPro™ System, the first device of its kind, provides the ability to arthroscopically drill small bone tunnels for suturing the tendon to bone. This better preserves the bone as anchors, the traditional method used for attaching the torn tendon onto the arm bone, are not used. Utilizing just suture material, this procedure works by creating only tiny tunnels into the bone, enhancing healing.
“By utilizing this method, you lose less bone,” said Dr. Ergin. “Not only is this good for obvious reasons initially, if revision is necessary in the future it will be a better situation as the bone hasn’t been damaged.” The tunnel method is technically difficult to do, and there is a definite learning curve attached to it, he said, which is why he believes a lot of surgeons do not utilize it. He said he uses it in almost every case, however, estimating that he has employed the procedure 150 or more times at this point. The surgery may at times take a little longer than if a traditional method is used, but by and large his patients have been enthusiastic about the results and appreciate of how non-invasive it is, allowing for a smooth recovery.
Robert, 68, felt educated about his choices and the procedure, and was pleased to have selected the fully arthroscopic method. He said he felt very little pain after the operation, which he attributed not only to the procedure and Dr. Ergin’s expertise, but also the fact that he followed through with all the instructions he was given for after care, including use of ice, medications and physical therapy.
Robert had his surgery in July 2013 and began months of physical therapy in August. When he went to see Dr. Ergin in February, he was told he could begin to lightly swing his golf clubs. “In March, he said ‘swing away,’ and I haven’t looked back since,” said Robert.
Robert found Dr. Ergin through prior experience with Essex Orthopaedics & Optima Sports Therapy. He had been the Director of Athletics at Merrimack College and the school contracted with the company as the teams’ doctors. “They did a great job taking care of our athletes and coaches,” he said. So it was only natural when he himself needed care to seek out their services.
Dr. Ergin stressed that the method using the ArthroTunneler™ TunnelPro™ System is not appropriate for all rotator cuff injuries, however. He explained that there are four parts to the rotator cuff, and whether or not this type of surgery should be used depends on what part is injured. It also depends on what type of tear and placement as well.