Rotator cuff tears can be the source of significant morbidity. Impingement syndrome involving repetitive and prolonged mechanical irritation of the rotator cuff against the roof of the shoulder creates a progression of disease. Chronic tendon inflammation can lead to structural loss of integrity, leading to partial tears, and if left unchecked, full-thickness tears. Currently, the surgeon has the ability to repair full-thickness tears using minimally invasive techniques. However, the persistent tear rate after repair is remarkably high, more than 50% in some studies. One surgical goal is to alter progression of disease, and repair partial-thickness tears, for example. Another goal is to optimize the healing environment with the repair construct itself, accounting for biomechanical considerations. When using an arthroscopic approach, the challenges for treating partial- versus full-thickness tears varies significantly given anatomic restrictions—particularly, during repair of partial-thickness tears, the surgeon is “blind” for portions of the procedure as the arthroscope is typically placed intra-articularly, while instruments are passed from above the tendon, extra-articularly. Ideally, new technologies can be developed to optimize rotator cuff repair and healing in this setting.

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