Rotator Cuff Repair New Subacromial Balloon for Rotator Cuff Surgery


BoneSmart Partner
Feb 27, 2011
United States
I am a 70 year old man who has played and still plays full court competitive basketball with men half my age. I play twice a week for 3 hours at a time. When I was 58 and then 60 years old I had both my knees replaced so I could continue to play competitively. I have a recovery thread here on BoneSmart and I appeared in the BoneSmart Spotlight regarding my successful total knee replacements. I am the Founder and Commissioner of one of the oldest basketball leagues in New York. Our non-profit organization is entering its 43rd year of continuous play. You can read more about how I'm doing these days at our website (

Three years back I had a massive tear in my supraspinatus muscle in my left shoulder. I also had other complications in my tendon and associated muscles. This was very painful and as time went on, it got worse. When I tried to shoot the ball I would get radiating pain in my left shoulder and arm, plus my range of motion was limited.

As I began to research surgery to repair my shoulder, I noticed a new procedure for rotator cuff repair in which they arthroscopically insert a small balloon into the sub acromial space of the shoulder. The balloon is then filled with saline solution and acts as a spacer or buffer that diminishes the pain and assists with healing. In about 12 months the saline solution dissipates and the balloon disintegrates. Here is a medical paper that describes more details about the procedure and how it works.

Normally with any surgery to repair tears in the rotator cuff muscles, the post-op pain is intense and lasts for weeks. The rehab and getting back to full function can take 8 months or more. I had the "balloon" procedure on May 20, 2022, and had minimal pain after surgery. I began going for physical therapy twice a week after 4 weeks and three times per week after 9 weeks. I am targeting mid October to begin playing competitively again.

I feel like the Subacromial Balloon (SAB) is a highly effective and innovative product that can provide tremendous benefit to a person with rotator cuff or shoulder muscle damage. If this describes you, you might want to look into it as an option rather than traditional rotator cuff repair surgery.

In many of my posts, I've expressed the critical importance of educating yourself on surgeries you may need, understanding anatomy or medical terms, doing your own research, finding the right surgeons and the right hospitals, understanding rehab, etc.. Depending on the advice of friends or relatives should be secondary to your full and complete understanding of your surgery before, during and after. You must educate yourself, which is quite easy with the vast resources of YouTube and Google. When surgeons use terms that you are not familiar with, ask them to explain or write them down and Google them. Don't shake your head as though you fully understand what is being said to you, because in most cases the surgeon is speaking a foreign language.

We spend more time these days on texting, Facebook, Instagram than doing the essential homework on issues of personal health and prolonging life in a pain free manner.

Since I speak from first-hand knowledge about this procedure, I'm happy to respond to any questions someone might have about what I experienced. When I discovered this new product, I was able to locate a surgeon who was proficient in the SAB procedure and the right hospital to have the surgery done. Use of the SAB has only been authorized here in the United States since 2021. However this procedure has been used in Europe since 2012.

My surgeon was Dr. Greg Montalbano, who is based in Staten Island. I had my surgery at the New York University Hospital at Langone. It's one of the best teaching hospitals in the nation with a separate facility dedicated just to orthopedics. Dr. Montalbano performed an excellent surgery and his practice is extremely patient friendly and highly professional. New York is known for its excellent surgeons and Dr. Montalbano is one of the best. He is easy to speak with, forthcoming, innovative and highly respected. He was in the top 5% of graduates in medical school and he has extensive experience with sports related injuries. How do I know all of this? I did my homework through my own research.
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