What is Acromioplasty: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results

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What Is Acromioplasty? Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results

Acromioplasty is a type of surgery designed to ​treat a ‌shoulder condition ​known as ‍impingement syndrome.​ The procedure involves the reshaping or removal of the acromion, which is​ the bony projection of the scapula, or‍ shoulder blade. It also typically⁣ includes‌ a procedure called debridement to‌ remove any inflamed or damaged ‌soft⁤ tissue that may be contributing to the impingement syndrome.⁣ This article will explain what acromioplasty is, its possible benefits and results, and how⁣ to share these results with your doctor.

What is Impingement Syndrome?

Impingement syndrome is⁣ a painful condition caused by a narrowing of the space between the acromion and ‌the deltoid ⁤muscle of the shoulder. This narrowing compresses the tendons and bursa ​in the shoulder, and the ​resulting friction causes ​pain,⁤ inflammation, ‌and decreased range‌ of motion.

What is Acromioplasty?

Acromioplasty⁤ is a procedure designed to widen the ‍space between‍ the two, which relieves pain and improves function in the shoulder.⁣ During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon will first assess the area and then use‍ specialized instruments to shave off the bony portion ⁣of the acromion, if necessary, or reshape the area. The surgeon may also perform a debridement of the shoulder’s‍ soft‌ tissues, removing any inflamed or ⁣damaged tissue.

Why ⁤Might​ Acromioplasty be Necessary?

The ⁣most common reason for undergoing an ⁤acromioplasty is to decrease the⁣ pain and enhance‌ the mobility of a‌ shoulder ‍affected by impingement syndrome. ‍This procedure may⁢ be recommended to athletes who ​have recurrent⁣ impingement syndrome from an overhead⁢ motion, ⁣such as⁣ throwing a ball or swinging a racket. It‌ may ‍also be recommended to ⁤people who have shoulder pain that does not respond‌ to other treatments, such‍ as ‌physical therapy or medication.

What⁤ are the Benefits of Acromioplasty?

The main⁤ benefit ⁣of acromioplasty⁢ is the reduction in⁢ shoulder pain and‍ improvements in shoulder mobility, which often occur immediately after surgery.‌ It can also improve⁢ shoulder strength and prevent further damage to the rotator cuff, which is the group of muscles and tendons that allow the shoulder to move ⁤and lift. ⁤Additionally, it may also delay or avoid the need for more invasive surgery, ⁢such as an open shoulder surgery.

What Are the ⁤Expected Results?

Immediately after acromioplasty, most patients experience some relief⁢ from their shoulder pain and improved motion and flexibility. Over time, patients may ‍notice further improvements, including improved shoulder strength and an increased range of motion. However, it is important to remember that the success of the procedure depends on each individual patient, and not​ all patients will experience the⁤ same level of improvement.

How to Share ⁤Acromioplasty Results with Your Doctor

If you⁢ are considering acromioplasty to treat‌ your shoulder impingement syndrome, it is important to discuss your‌ expectations with your doctor. Before the procedure, discuss your overall health, medical ⁣history, ‍and the expected outcomes to make sure that the ⁤acromioplasty procedure⁣ is the right decision for you. After the ⁤procedure, it is a good​ idea to let your doctor know how ⁢you are feeling and if you ⁣are experiencing any ⁣pain or ⁢discomfort. You should also keep⁢ track of any changes ​in shoulder strength and range of motion so that‌ you can share your progress with your doctor. ⁢Reporting‌ all of ​these ⁣details ​to your doctor can help determine whether‌ or not your acromioplasty was successful.


Acromioplasty is a procedure designed to reduce shoulder pain and enhance mobility in patients with impingement syndrome. In some cases, it may be ‌recommended to athletes who have‌ recurrent ‌pain from ⁤overhead motions.⁤ The ⁤benefits of acromioplasty may include immediate relief from shoulder pain⁤ and ‌improved range of‌ motion and strength. After surgery, it is important to discuss any ​changes with your doctor ‌to ensure that the procedure ‌was successful.

Definition and Overview

An acromioplasty, also known as subacromial decompression, is a surgical procedure that involves the acromion, the triangular-shaped bone found in both shoulders. In this arthroscopic procedure, a small piece of the body part is removed to prevent or relieve the friction that develops when the bone comes into contact with a tendon.

The acromion is connected to the shoulder blade and extends toward the shoulder joint. Along with the collarbone, it forms the acromioclavicular joint and is also connected to the scapular spine. Due to repetitive movements of the shoulders, the surface of the acromion may become damaged, causing the bone to rub against the tendons in the shoulder.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

An acromioplasty or subacromial decompression is beneficial for patients who suffer from an acromioclavicular joint injury, which commonly affects males over the age of 35.

The procedure is typically performed to repair AC joint injuries related to overuse, as constant strain on the acromion bone can damage the cartilage. When this occurs, the bone comes into direct contact with the tendons, increasing the risk of serious tendon damage and causing some symptoms, such as:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Loss of strength in the shoulders
  • Bump on top of the shoulder
  • Compromised shoulder motion
  • Catching sound when the shoulders are moved

    Patients recover rather quickly from an acromioplasty, so much so that they rarely require the use of slings. The average recovery period is around six weeks if the procedure is done in a minimally invasive manner. For an open surgery, recovery may take around 6 months to one year.

During the recovery period, patients are generally asked to simply rest the shoulder for the first few days after the procedure. However, to regain shoulder strength, speed up recovery, and decrease the risk of complications, patients are advised to begin physiotherapy as soon as possible.

How Does the Procedure Work?

As the term “subacromial decompression” suggests, an acromioplasty is performed by shaving the surface under the acromion to give it enough space to move around without hitting the tendons. This completely relieves the pain and other symptoms of the injury.

The procedure is typically performed using minimally invasive keyhole or arthroscopic surgery, wherein an arthroscope is used to take images of the interior of the shoulder to guide the surgeon during the surgery. To begin the procedure, the surgeon positions the patient in a supine posture with the right shoulder elevated. He then makes a superior strap incision over the central part of the acromion’s anterior tip. Once the incision is made, the surgeon proceeds by detaching some fibers to access the affected area and then performs the necessary step to reduce the size of the acromion. He also inspects the rotator cuff tendons for some damage, which can be repaired during the same procedure. The surgical site is then covered with a dressing.

Possible Risks and Complications

Although the success rate of subacromial decompression procedure is very high, it places the patient at risk of the following complications:

  • Excessive or prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Delayed healing of the wound
  • Joint stiffness
  • Blood vessel injury
  • Nerve injury
  • Post-surgical pain


  • DeBerardino TM, Scordino L. Shoulder arthroscopy. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 45.
  • Phillips BB. Arthroscopy of the upper extremity. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 52.



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