Shoulder Surgery: Subacromial Decompression (Acromioplasty)

Indications for operation

Subacromial Impingement (painful arc) unresponsive to treatment

Rotator cuff rupture (repaired at same time)

ACJ arthritis (treated at same time)

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General Anaesthetic with an interscalene block (Fully asleep with a local anaesthetic injection into the side of the neck will numb the nerves to the shoulder for post-operative pain relief)

Operation type



Subacromial incisions
Subacromial incisions

3 ½ cm incisions will be made in the shoulder, one to the back, one at the side and one at the front of the shoulder.


The gleno-humeral (shoulder) joint will be inspected first followed by the subacromial bursa and the rotator cuff. A soft tissue shaving device will be used to clear any scar tissue away. A bone-shaving device will be used to shape the underside of the acromion (the bone at the top of the shoulder) and remove any excess bone.


Shoulder Anatomy - front view Shoulder muscles (rotator cuff) - side view
Shoulder Anatomy - front view
Shoulder muscles (rotator cuff) - side view
Undersurface of Acromion - pre op Acromion during operation
Undersurface of Acromion - pre op Acromion during operation
Undersurface of acromion post op
Undersurface of acromion post op


Wound Closure

Small butterfly paper stitches will be used to close the wounds.


Elastoplast dressings will be placed over the top of the paper stitches and an adhesive bandage over the top of this.

Immediate aftercare

A sling will be placed on the arm and it may feel numb for the rest of the day. You can go home when you feel comfortable and will be given instructions on what to do next.

Further instructions for Acromioplasty rehabilitation