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Subacromial Decompression

Subacromial Decompression

This shoulder MRI demonstrates an example of a large bone spur (dashed line) on the bottom surface of the acromion. In this example, there is also a small tear of the underlying rotator cuff tendon, likely as a result of longstanding subacromial impingement.

When subacromial impingement fails to improve with non-surgical treatment such as physical therapy or corticosteroid injections, surgery may be required to fix the problem.

This surgery, called “subacromial decompression”, is a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure in which a small camera is inserted into the shoulder and a bone spur is removed from the bottom of the acromion. Sometimes a rotator cuff tear is also present and this may require repair as well. Subacromial decompression increases the space available for the shoulder bones to move freely without impinging on one another or the rotator cuff tendon that lies between them.

Patients can expect a relatively fast post-operative recovery if a rotator cuff repair is not required. A sling is used only for comfort and patients can resume activities at their own pace.