[The role of arthroscopy in subacromial pathology. Retrospective study of a series of arthroscopic acromioplasties]

Published online: Dec 27 2000

P Schiepers, P Pauwels, W Penders, B Brandelet, and P Putz.

Service d'Orthop├ędie, CHU Brugmann, Place Van Gehuchten, 4, 1020 Bruxelles, Belgique.


The authors report the results of a retrospective study of 59 arthroscopic acromioplasties. Objective shoulder assessment was made following the relative Constant score and UCLA rating scale. Subjective satisfaction of the patient was assessed on an analogic scale. The patients were divided into 3 groups, according to the subacromial pathology treated. The first group (27 shoulders in 23 patients) included patients with subacromial impingement without a complete rotator cuff tear. The objective result, between 80 and 90%, was close to results in others series reported. Distinction between patients with no tear or partial tear of the cuff showed better results for patients with partial tears. This surprising finding may be at least partially explained by the fact that these patients were older than those without a cuff tear. The results of this study, and the review of the literature, confirmed the value of subacromial decompression as a treatment for impingement without complete cuff tear resistant to at least 6 months of conservative treatment; comparison between surgical and arthroscopic series showed similar results. The second group (19 shoulders in 19 patients) included patients with impingement and complete cuff tear. The objective results and the literature review led us to specify indications. Subacromial decompression with debridment of the tear has given excellent results in older patients--over 60 for most authors--when the tear was limited. In our study, the function of the shoulder at revision was good when the tear was limited to the supraspinatus and part of the infraspinatus. The third group (13 shoulders in 10 patients) included patients with calcifying tendinitis. Arthroscopic acromioplasty was performed in every case; excision of the calcification was performed in less than half of the cases and did not influence the final result. The calcifications had disappeared at revision in all cases. This may suggest that the treatment of the associated impingement was the most important procedure in these cases.