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Subacromial Decompression
Dr. James Chen, M.D. - In San Francisco, CA



Dr. Chen’s surgical technique for subacromial decompression with a burr:


An arthroscopic procedure performed to remove a bony spur that is impinging on the rotator cuff and causing pain and/or tearing of the tissue. Through 2 or 3 small incisions around the shoulder, soft tissue and bone are removed from the undersurface of the acromion. This restores the space that should separate the acromion from the rotator cuff, reducing impingement symptoms and tearing of the rotator cuff.


Dr. Chen’s surgical technique for subacromial decompression with a rasp:

Common Questions about Subacromial Decompression

How to do subacromial decompression surgery?

Subacromial decompression surgery is performed arthroscopically with a camera and small instruments. A heat wand is used to clear off the bony surface of the acromion. Then a burr is used to remove the bony spur from the acromion.

How long does it take for subacromial decompression to heal?

A subacromial decompression takes 8 weeks to fully heal. That is because once the spur is removed the bony end is raw and takes 8 weeks to fully seal. During the rehabilitation period there are no restrictions on the shoulder and the patient can do activity as tolerated.

Why is a subacromial decompression done?

The rotator cuff lies in the subacromial space. The roof of the subacromial space can develop of bony spur that will impinge on the rotator cuff tendon during any overhead activity. Typically a type 2 acromion (downsloping) or a type 3 acromion (hooked) can cause rotator cuff impingement syndrome.

What is a subacromial decompression?

A subacromial decompression is a surgery performed to create more space above the rotator cuff to allow for unrestricted movement of the rotator cuff under the acromion.

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