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Arthroscopic Acromioplasty

by dr kalman piper

An arthroscopic acromioplasty and subacromial decompression is performed for the treatment impingement and bursitis of the shoulder.

The procedure is performed using an arthroscopic or keyhole technique. Small incisions, or portals are made around the shoulder and a pencil-like camera is introduced into the shoulder joint. Saline is pumped into the joint to allow visualisation. A thorough inspection of the joint is made to exclude any injuries to the joint surface, the labrum, the biceps and the rotator cuff.

The arthroscope is then moved from inside the shoulder joint to the subacromial space. Here the bursitis and area of impingement can be viewed directly. The inflamed bursa is removed using an electro-cautery device which vaporises the tissue (subacromial decompression). A 4mm high speed bur is then used to remove some bone from the under-surface of the acromion to give it a flatter profile and prevent impingement (acromioplasty).

Patients are usually able to go home the same day of surgery (day surgery). A sling is worn for approximately two weeks, although it can be removed early if the shoulder is comfortable. There are no restrictions on shoulder movement after the surgery, although it is advised to rest the shoulder for a week or two, to allow the shoulder to recover from the surgery. Postoperative physiotherapy is commenced immediately after the surgery.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. The information provided here is for general educational purposes only. Please contact Dr Kalman Piper to find out if an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is appropriate for your individual situation.