Acromioplasty, also known as subacromial decompression, is an arthroscopic surgical procedure of the acromion, top of the shoulder blade or the part of the shoulder blade extending over the shoulder joint. In the shoulder acromioplasty surgery, a small piece of the surface of the acromion that is causing damage to the tendon tissue is removed.
Arthroscopic acromioplasty is used to treat severe cases of impingement syndrome, a condition resulting from an injury to the rotator cuff muscles and often seen in aging adults. In the impingement syndrome, the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become irritated and inflamed as they pass through the subacromial space, the passage beneath the acromion. This can result in pain, weakness, and loss of movement at the shoulder. Motions such as reaching up behind the back and reaching up overhead to put on a coat or blouse, for example, may cause pain.
In a shoulder arthroscopic acromioplasty, a number of small incisions are made around the shoulder. The surgeon uses an arthroscope and video camera to confirm the subacromial impingement. In order to release the pressure on the trapped tendon or bursa and to allow the shoulder joint to move smoothly, the surgeon then removes or shaves a section of bone from the underside of the acromion. If any other injuries such as a rotator cuff tear or slap tear are identified, then those are also treated at the time of this surgery (e.g. rotator cuff repair).
A dramatic relief in symptoms of impingement syndrome is usually seen soon after the surgery. In some cases, it may take a couple of months for the symptoms to resolve. For complete shoulder recovery and shoulder rehab, the patient must follow through the complete course of physiotherapy.