What is included in the surgical evaluation of supraspinatus tendonitis?

Updated: Dec 03, 2018
  • Author: Thomas M DeBerardino, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Surgical evaluation

  • Initially, perform the examination with the patient under anesthesia (general anesthesia vs regional block) and include diagnostic arthroscopy.

  • Evaluate shoulder range of motion and stability.

  • In patients with limited motion, manipulation of the shoulder is performed and diagnostic arthroscopy also may be performed, but arthroscopic subacromial decompression is generally not performed in patients with significant preoperative stiffness because of the increased risk of postoperative adhesive capsulitis.

  • Document any instability.

  • Perform an arthroscopic evaluation.

  • Particular attention is directed to the rotator cuff, especially the supraspinatus tendon near its insertion onto the greater tuberosity.

  • Visualize the subscapularis tendon.

  • Assess for labral pathology or changes suggesting glenohumeral instability.

  • A partial tearing of the supraspinatus tendon along its articular surface is a common finding in symptomatic throwing athletes. The fragmented and torn tissue is debrided, leaving all intact rotator cuff tendon. This allows a more accurate determination of the size and thickness of the tear on the articular side of the rotator cuff and may help reduce symptoms of catching and pain.

  • Following glenohumeral arthroscopy, the bursal side of the rotator cuff is evaluated using arthroscopy.

  • The bursal surface of the rotator cuff is assessed for evidence of fraying and for the amount of clearance between the anterior inferior acromion and the supraspinatus tendon.

  • Also note any signs of fraying or wear changes on the undersurface of the coracoacromial ligament.

  • If no evidence of rotator cuff disruption is noted and the coracoacromial ligament is smooth, with adequate space between the anterior inferior acromion and rotator cuff, then the diagnosis of subacromial impingement is unlikely. In this case, subacromial decompression is not performed.

  • In case of a small partial-thickness rotator cuff tear on the articular surface, without evidence of impingement, only perform glenohumeral debridement of this tear.

  • If the patient has changes suggestive of impingement syndrome, arthroscopic subacromial decompression (acromioplasty, ie, resection of the anterior inferior portion of the acromion) is also performed.

  • If, following subacromial decompression, a rotator cuff repair is necessary, it may be continued under arthroscopic assistance or it may require conversion of the rotator cuff repair to an open procedure.

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