Background: Despite the relative frequency of partial-thickness rotator cuff tears seen in baseball players, full-thickness rotator cuff tears in baseball players are uncommon.
Hypothesis: Return to competitive baseball is difficult after surgical treatment of a full-thickness rotator cuff tear.
Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: We evaluated the results of 16 professional baseball players after a mini-open repair of a full-thickness rotator cuff tear. Twelve patients were pitchers with injury to their dominant shoulders. Four patients were position players; 2 had injuries involving their dominant shoulders, and 2 had injuries to their nondominant shoulders.
Results: At a mean follow-up of 66.6 months for the pitchers, only 1 player (8%) was able to return to a high competitive level of baseball with no significant shoulder dysfunction after mini-open repair of a full-thickness rotator cuff tear. Of the 2 position players with mini-open repairs of the full-thickness rotator cuff tear of their dominant shoulders, 1 was able to return to professional baseball. Of the 2 position players with mini-open repairs of the full-thickness rotator cuff tear of their nondominant shoulders, both were able to return to professional baseball at the same or higher level.
Conclusion: It is very difficult for a professional baseball pitcher to return to a competitive level of pitching after a full-thickness rotator cuff repair with a mini-open approach.