Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I'm probably just being nosy but my neighbor had shoulder surgery she called acromioplasty. What is that and what's it for? I never really noticed she was having shoulder problems so it surprised me when she had the surgery.


Acromioplasty is one of the most common orthopedic procedures performed in the United States. What's an acromioplasty? It's the removal of a small piece of bone called the acromion. The acromion comes from the scapula (shoulder blade at the back of the shoulder) across the top of the shoulder to connect with the clavicle collar bone in the front of the shoulder. Why is it removed? Generally, removal of the acromion is done to take pressure off the rotator cuff tendons as they pass under the acromion to attach to the upper arm. Until recently, it was believed that the reason these tendons got frayed or damaged was from rubbing against the bottom of the acromion. Shaving the underside of the acromion or removing the end of the bone altogether is one way to deal with the problem. Rotator cuff degeneration seems to be common in midlife, often occurring between the ages 30 to 40 years old. Mechanical impingement (pinching) from the acromion is considered a major cause of this problem. Removing the acromion is a logical way to solve the problem. Besides impingement syndrome, acromioplasty is also used for sprains and strains of the rotator cuff, shoulder bursitis, labral tears, and rotator cuff ruptures. It's likely that your neighbor had one of these problems. She might be willing to tell you all about it if you ask! Mark A. Vitale, MD, MPH, et al. The Rising Incidence of Acromioplasty. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2010. Vol. 92-A. No. 9. Pp. 1842-1850.

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