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"The Surgeon put a balloon in my shoulder!" A new treatment for massive rotator cuff tears

Balloon Procedure for Rotator Cuff Tears

Virginia Beach, Rotator Cuff Surgery

There may be a new treatment option for rotator cuff tears and it’s not what you might expect. It's a balloon. Clinical trials are underway at a few academic centers throughout the U.S to test the InSpace biodegradable balloon, which is a treatment option for massive rotator cuff tears.


This surgery is performed arthroscopically and a biodegradable balloon is placed in the shoulder as a cushion between the ball of the shoulder and the acromion. The balloon is then inflated with saline to keep the ball of the shoulder from bumping into the acromion. This may be a treatment option for massive rotator cuff tears that cannot be surgically fixed. In these situations the humeral head which is the ball of the shoulder will begin to elevate out of the shoulder socket and bump against the acromion which is the bone above it. This happens because the rotator cuff muscles help to hold the humeral head down and when they are torn very badly the humeral head drifts upwards.


This is definitely not a treatment option for the majority of rotator cuff tears which can be repaired. However, it may be an option for massive tears that can’t be fixed. If this surgery is successful it may be a nice alternative to larger operations such as superior capsular reconstruction.

 This is an animation of the procedure

Here is a video of a regular rotator cuff repair

Brad Carofino, MD Dr. Brad Carofino is a board-certified (American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery), fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder & upper extremity surgery. Dr. Carofino is an expert in shoulder replacement surgery, minimally invasive arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, and complex reconstructive procedures of the upper extremity.

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I enjoy sharing this story because it is a testament to patient's who are seeking a solution to shoulder arthritis who want to remain highly active. I am grateful for patients like Fred who give me the opportunity to improve their overall quality of life!