John Salmon
MBBS FRACS

A shoulder arthroscopy is a procedure used to assess any damage to the shoulder joint and surrounding structures. It is performed by inflating the joint with fluid and making several small incisions through which a telescope and probe can be inserted.

Procedures can then be done through small incisions using arthroscopic Instruments or sometimes through a separate incision.

These procedures include:

Acromioplasty/Subacromial Decompression

This involves removal of some bone which is catching on the rotator cuff tendon and causing impingement. It is done through small incisions using arthroscopic instruments.

Rotator Cuff Repair

This is combined with acromioplasty. If a tear is found in the rotator cuff tendon a small incision (5-6 cm) is made to repair it. Often metal anchors are inserted into the bone to hold the stitches used in the repair.

Excision of Distal Clavicle

If the acromioclavicular joint is abnormal, the end of the clavicle may be removed through a small (4-5cm) incision.

Capsular Release

This is done in shoulders with limited movement. The capsule lining the joint is cut to improve movement. This is done purely arthroscopically.

SLAP Repair

A SLAP lesion occurs in the top of the joint where the biceps tendon attaches to the bone. This can become detached, needing reattachment using bone anchors and sutures.

Will I have much pain following the surgery?

Shoulder surgery is not minor surgery and you will have some pain. You will need to stay in hospital overnight, and sometimes two nights. When you go home you will need Panadeine Forte for pain relief.

How will I care for my shoulder after the surgery?

  • You will need to keep the dressings ON and DRY. (This is to help stop any infection). They are usually waterproof and can be splashed in the shower.
  • You SHOULD NOT do any lifting or drive the car until your post-operative review appointment
  • Your dressing and stitches will be removed at your first post-operatlve visit.
  • Keep on with the physiotherapy exercises explained to you in hospital.

Work

When you return to work depends on your job and the extent of damage found at the surgery. Most people need a minimum of ten days off work.