Severe injuries like biceps tears that are not responsive to conservative treatments usually require surgical intervention to reattach tendons and address associated damage. While open shoulder surgery used to be performed in the past requiring sizeable incisions, most surgeons today prefer the less invasive approach of the arthroscopic procedure.
Shoulder arthroscopy for biceps injuries generally has positive outcomes and provides several advantages:
Patients are positioned in an upright seated position and are administered a local anesthetic or nerve block to prevent pain during surgery which wears off after 24 hours. During the procedure, surgeons make several small incisions around the shoulder to insert a narrow tube-like camera (arthroscope) that allows them to closely analyze sustained muscle, tendon, cartilage, and bone damage.
Miniature surgical instruments are inserted through the small shoulder incisions allowing surgeons to detach, repair or remove damaged tendons. Anchors drilled into the shoulder bone allow tendon reattachment without the issue of steep connecting mechanics. Surgeons can also perform frayed cartilage and bone fragment removal and mend muscle tears.
After the reparative phase, the instruments are easily removed, and the small incisions are closed with stitches. The procedure typically lasts 1 to 2 hours, with most patients able to return home the same day.
Pain medication will be prescribed to ease painful post-operative symptoms, and the shoulder will be immobilized for a few weeks. Patients will gradually advance to physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion, with a full recovery expected after 3 to 4 months.