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Arthroscopy. 1988;4(4):241-9.

Arthroscopic subacromial decompression: results according to the degree of rotator cuff tear.

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  • 1Tri-City Orthopaedic Surgery Medical Group, Oceanside, CA 92056.


We evaluated the results of arthroscopic subacromial decompression according to the degree of rotator cuff tear in 71 patients, available for follow-up for at least 1 year (average 19 months). Of the patients with stage II disease, 82% were satisfied regardless of whether they had no rotator cuff tear (nine of 11) or had a partial tear (28 of 34) of the rotator cuff. Of patients with stage III disease (complete rotator cuff tear), 88% (23 of 26) were satisfied. An acceptable objective UCLA shoulder rating greater than or equal to 28 points was seen in 82% (nine of 11) of the patients without a rotator cuff tear, 76% (26 of 34) with a partial tear, and 77% (20 of 26) with a complete tear. All four of the patients with complete tears less than 1 cm obtained excellent results. Three of the six failures were in patients with complete tears who had a narrowed acromial-humeral distance of less than 7 mm. The average UCLA pain score showed significant improvement from 2.8 (constant pain) to 8.6 (occasional pain) at 1-2 years postoperatively. The function, strength, and active forward flexion scores also increased at 1-2 years from their preoperative values. The overall patient satisfaction rate of 85% and the objective success rate of 77% are within the range of that seen with open rotator cuff repair.

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