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Shoulder News

Ultrasound Used to Review Results of Shoulder Surgery

Rotator cuff tears (RCTs) are treated on the basis of how serious the damage is. For example if less than half of the tendon is torn, then the surgeon cleans up the area, a procedure called debridement.

Loose fragments of tendon tissue are removed. Ragged edges are smoothed. Part of the bone over the shoulder called the acromion is cut out. This part of the operation is called an acromioplasty. The acromioplasty takes pressure off the rotator cuff as it slides and glides under the bone.

A group of patients who had debridement and an acromioplasty for partial-thickness RCTs were followed for at least five years. Ultrasound was used as a fast and cost-effective way to examine the shoulder. In fact both shoulders were viewed this way.

The authors found that nine out of 26 patients had a full-thickness tear of the rotator cuff. Three of those nine patients actually had RCTs in both shoulders.
They conclude the earlier debridement and acromioplasty didn't protect these patients from further damage. Most of the affected patients did not need any further surgery. Since some patients had RCTs on both sides, it may be these problems are due to aging and degeneration. Earlier treatment may not have been a failure after all.


Jüri Kartus, MD, et al. Long-term Clinical and Ultrasound Evaluation After Arthroscopic Acromioplasty in Patients with Partial Rotator Cuff Tears. In The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery. January 2006. Vol. 22. No. 1. Pp. 44-49.

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