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Shoulder Tendon Transfers

At Mass General Brigham, we are a world-renowned leading surgical team pioneering shoulder tendon transfer surgeries. Our surgical team has extensive experience in novel and minimally invasive treatments to reconstruct shoulder tendons, including tendon transfer surgery. Our goal is to alleviate pain and restore function in patients with injuries such as torn rotator cuffs, arthritis, trauma and congenital disorders of the shoulder.

Male provider performing elastic band shoulder exercise with male patient

Diagnosing shoulder tendon needs

Shoulder tendon transfer may be recommended if you have shoulder muscle injury and pain, especially if you have chronic pain and paralysis and have not responded to more conservative non-surgical treatments. This groundbreaking surgical technique is used in a broad range of shoulder injuries, from irreparable subscapularis and posterosuperior rotator cuff tears to scapulothoracic abnormal motion associated with muscle palsy.

All of our shoulder tendon transfer surgery patients can count on receiving the exceptional quality of care the world has come to expect from Mass General Brigham.

During shoulder tendon transfer surgery, muscles near your shoulder are borrowed and redeployed surgically to reconstruct and strengthen your shoulder. It is optimal to have preserved range of motion before surgery. However, you may require release of your shoulder at the time of surgery to improve your outcome. As with other tendon transfer treatments, the goal of shoulder tendon transfer surgery is to alleviate pain and increase mobility. 

Advanced expertise for complex surgeries

Our shoulder tendon transfer specialists are global leaders in advanced clinical practice and research, bringing the latest treatments and applications to bear in their compassionate care. Shoulder specialists at Mass General Brigham work closely with orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, physical therapists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, inpatient nurses, fellows and residents to provide comprehensive medical care. Our internationally recognized team of specialists integrates the latest musculoskeletal research, innovation and technology into their practice to constantly elevate their level of care.

If your doctor believes your sudden or chronic shoulder or upper arm pain makes you a candidate for shoulder tendon transfer surgery, our team will evaluate your shoulder to determine the extent of damage. We will then work with you to develop a treatment and rehabilitation plan that honors your personal goals and returns you to activities as quickly and safely as possible. 

Your Mass General Brigham shoulder surgery team

Shoulder tendon transfer surgery was pioneered 14 years ago by Mass General Brigham's world-leading expert, Bassem Elhassan, MD. He is considered the world expert in the evaluation and management of scapulothoracic disorders, and tendon transfers around the shoulder and elbow.

Dr. Elhassan has been innovative in the field of upper extremity surgery and he has developed numerous novel procedures (20 new surgical procedures for the shoulder, elbow and wrist) through dedicated anatomic and biomechanical studies. The care and outcome of patients, specifically those with complex shoulder and elbow problems, improved significantly because of these innovations.

Dr. Elhassan can speak with his patients in English, Arabic, French or Spanish.

Innovations in Complex Shoulder Reconstruction

Bassem Elhassan, MD, discusses his unique approach to developing tendon transfer procedures to alleviate shoulder pain. These innovative shoulder procedures are currently performed exclusively at Mass General, but are also taught as part of the Shoulder Surgery Fellowship curriculum and shared for use globally.

Shoulder tendon transfers for international patients

Each year, thousands of patients from more than 120 countries travel to Mass General Brigham for medical care, second opinions and treatments unavailable anywhere else in the world. 

Dr. Elhassan and his team are experienced in caring for complex shoulder patients who are traveling great distances to our hospitals in Boston. His team and the international patient services team will help you prepare for and plan the appropriate amount of time to stay in Boston before and after your treatment or surgery. During this recovery time in Boston, our clinical team will monitor your healing and medications and prepare you for the rehabilitation stage of your care. Your Mass General Brigham care team will work with you and your providers at home to ensure you receive the properly scheduled follow-up appointments and a rehab physical therapy program that is right for you.

Many of our international patients have questions about everything from travel and lodging to scheduling appointments. Our international patient services team is here to help. We look forward to making your Mass General Brigham experience as healing and stress-free as possible.