Shoulder Surgeons Should Rethink a Common Practice, New Study Suggests

Bursa May Help Tendons Heal

Photo of Dr. Stavros Thomopoulos in his lab

Stavros Thomopoulos

A common practice of shoulder surgeons may be impairing the success of rotator cuff surgery, a new study from orthopedic scientists and biomedical engineers at Columbia University suggests.

During the surgery, surgeons often remove a tissue called the bursa while repairing torn tendons in the shoulder joint, but the study suggests that the small tissue plays a role in helping the shoulder heal.

“It is common to remove the bursa during shoulder surgery, even for the simple purpose of visualizing the rotator cuff,” says Stavros Thomopoulos, PhD, the study’s senior author and the Robert E. Carroll and Jane Chace Carroll Laboratories Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“But we really don’t know the role of the bursa in rotator cuff disease, so we don’t know the full implications of removing it,” Thomopoulos says. “Our findings in an animal model indicate that surgeons should not remove the bursa without carefully considering the consequences.”

Read the rest of the story on Columbia University Irving Medical Center's news site.