New surgery uses donated tissue to recreate rotator cuff

'On scale of 1-10, I'm at 10-plus,' post-op patient says

By Aaron Wische - Senior Executive Producer

HOUSTON - Rotator cuff tears are extremely common, with up to 30 percent of the population over the age of 60 suffering from them. But what happens when standard repair surgery fails? There is now a new procedure from Japan called superior capsule reconstruction.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that come together to help comfortably lift and rotate your arm.

Reggie Lucas, a coach who loves playing golf, tore his rotator cuff, and his entire life was affected.

“I was really limited to a lot of things I could do because I had to sleep on one side of the bed, and didn’t get enough sleep because of the pain I would be in,” Lucas said.

After five failed rotator cuff surgeries, Lucas went to see Dr. Kevin Kaplan, an orthopedic surgeon at the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute. Kaplan is also a team physician for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“He was in such pain, with limited function, he said, 'I’d like to try anything to make this better,'” Kaplan said of Lucas.
 
Kaplan recommended superior capsule reconstruction, which uses donated tissue to recreate the rotator cuff.

“We attach that to both the socket and the ball, and it acts almost like a reverse trampoline and it keeps the ball centered in the socket,” Kaplan said.
 
The surgery was successful. Lucas’ pain was gone almost immediately.

“When I came back and I showed doc how the range of motion was with the arm, he said, 'I release you to putt well.' I didn’t tell him I was already swinging,” Lucas said.

“His results have been fantastic, and he has been one of the biggest advocates I’ve had," Kaplan said of Lucas. "In fact, I’ve had patients who were nervous about the procedure and he was able to talk them through his process and how well he’s done with this."

“On a scale of one to 10, I’m at a 10-plus,” Lucas said.

Kaplan said the risk of rejection and infection of donated tissue in superior capsule reconstruction is extremely low, because the body will incorporate the tissue as part of its own.

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