Arthroscopic decompression for impingement syndrome secondary to an unstable os acromiale

Rick W. Wright, Mark A. Heller, Donald C. Quick, Daniel D. Buss

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44 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine cases of patients with impingement syndrome secondary to an unfused, unstable, os acromiale. Type of Study: Retrospective case series. Materials and Methods: Twelve consecutive patients (13 shoulders) presented with impingement symptoms in the presence of an os acromiale. The os acromiale, at the meso-acromion level, was seen on standard radiographs. The patients were all treated conservatively with rotator cuff strengthening, stretching, anti-inflammatory medications, and steroid injections. All patients underwent an impingement test with lidocaine, resulting in complete relief of their pain. After failure of the conservative management, the 12 patients (13 shoulders) underwent an extended arthroscopic subacromial decompression. The goal of the modified arthroscopic acromioplasty was resection of adequate bone to remove the mobile anterior acromial tip. In general, this consisted of more bony resection than the typical arthroscopic acromioplasty. Postoperatively, the patients began a rehabilitation program emphasizing early, range of motion followed by isolated free-weight rotator cuff strengthening exercises. Five shoulders had a partial-thickness tear of the rotator cuff. Four involved less than 50% of the thickness of the rotator cuff. These 4 partial-thickness tears underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff debridement. One partial-thickness tear was greater than 50% and repair was performed with a mini-open deltoid-splitting technique. Results: Results were evaluated using UCLA shoulder scoring. Preoperatively, the score averaged 17. The 3-month postoperative score was 27, and at 6 and 12 months, averaged 28. The final follow-up score averaged 31. There were 11 satisfactory results with UCLA scores ≥28. Two unsatisfactory results showed UCLA scores in the fair category. Full strength of the anterior deltoid and rotator cuff muscles was achieved in all patients by 6 months postoperatively as evaluated by manual muscle testing. Twelve of the 13 shoulders were rated by the patients as having a satisfactory result. All of the patients rated their cosmetic results as acceptable. There was no evidence of postoperative deltoid detachment. No patient developed pain at the pseudarthrosis point. Conclusions: Given the previously reported poor results with attempts at fusion of an unstable os acromiale and open complete excision of meso-acromial fragments, the authors conclude that an extended arthroscopic subacromial decompression results in a reasonable outcome for patients with impingement syndromes secondary to an unstable os acromiale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-599
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • Impingement syndrome
  • Os acromiale
  • Shoulder
  • Subacromial decompression


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