Arthroscopic versus open acromioplasty: A prospective, randomized, blinded study

Mark J. Spangehl, Robert H. Hawkins, Robert G. McCormack, Richard L. Loomer

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47 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to determine whether arthroscopic acromioplasty is equivalent or superior to open acromioplasty, in a prospective, randomized, controlled, blinded clinical trial. Seventy-one patients with a clinical diagnosis of impingement syndrome were randomized to arthroscopic or open acromioplasty. Nine were excluded because of full-thickness rotator cuff tears diagnosed after randomization. Sixty-two patients (49 men and 13 women) with a minimum follow-up of 12 months (mean, 25 months) were included. The patient groups were virtually identical with regard to duration of symptoms, shoulder functional demands, age, sex, hand dominance, mechanism of onset, range of motion, strength, joint laxity, and the presence of a compensation claim. Patients were prospectively randomized to arthroscopic or open acromioplasty after stratification for age (>50 years), associated ligamentous laxity, and the presence of an ongoing compensation claim. The main outcome measure was visual analog scales for pain and function. Also recorded were UCLA shoulder scores and visual analog scales for postoperative improvement, patient satisfaction, and a variety of clinical measures. An independent blinded examiner assessed all patients. There was no significant difference between open and arthroscopic acromioplasty in visual analog scales for postoperative improvement (P = .30), patient satisfaction (P = .94), UCLA shoulder score (P = .69), or strength (P = .62); however, open was superior to arthroscopic acromioplasty for pain and function (P = .01). Overall, 67% of patients had a good or excellent result. This increased to 87% when unsettled compensation claims were excluded. Repeat (open) acromioplasty was performed in 5 patients in the unsuccessful arthroscopic group without improvement. Open acromioplasty was equivalent to arthroscopic acromioplasty for UCLA scores and patient satisfaction. For pain and function, both gave significant improvement but the open technique may be superior. Unsettled compensation is a predictor of poor outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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