Does acromioplasty result in favorable clinical and radiologic outcomes in the management of chronic subacromial pain syndrome? A double-blinded randomized clinical trial with 9 to 14 years' follow-up

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2017 Aug;26(8):1407-1415. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2017.03.021. Epub 2017 May 8.


Background: The treatment effect of acromioplasty for chronic subacromial pain syndrome (SAPS) on long-term shoulder function and rotator cuff deterioration has still to be determined. This study aimed to determine the long-term clinical and radiologic treatment effect of arthroscopic acromioplasty in patients with chronic SAPS.

Methods: In this double-blind, randomized clinical trial, 56 patients with chronic SAPS (median age, 47 years; age range, 31-60 years) were randomly allocated to arthroscopic bursectomy alone or to bursectomy combined with acromioplasty and were followed up for a median of 12 years. The primary outcome was the Constant score. Secondary outcomes included the Simple Shoulder Test, visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, VAS for shoulder functionality, and rotator cuff integrity assessed with magnetic resonance imaging or ultrasound.

Results: A total of 43 patients (77%) were examined at a median of 12 years' follow-up. Intention-to-treat analysis at 12 years' follow-up did not show a significant additional treatment effect of acromioplasty on bursectomy alone in improvement in Constant score (5 points; 95% confidence interval, -5.1 to 15.6), Simple Shoulder Test score, VAS score for pain, or VAS score for shoulder function. The prevalence of rotator cuff tears was not significantly different between the bursectomy group (17%) and acromioplasty group (10%).

Conclusions: There were no relevant additional effects of arthroscopic acromioplasty on bursectomy alone with respect to clinical outcomes and rotator cuff integrity at 12 years' follow-up. These findings bring the effectiveness of acromioplasty into question and may support the idea of a more conservative approach in the initial treatment of SAPS.

Keywords: Rotator cuff; arthroscopy; bursitis; pain; shoulder; shoulder impingement syndrome; surgery.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acromion / diagnostic imaging
  • Acromion / surgery*
  • Adult
  • Arthroplasty
  • Arthroscopy
  • Bursa, Synovial / surgery*
  • Chronic Pain / surgery
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rotator Cuff / diagnostic imaging
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology*
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery*
  • Shoulder Pain / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography