Sub-acromial balloon spacer for irreparable rotator cuff tears: Is it an appropriate salvage procedure?

Dan Prat*, Shay Tenenbaum, Moshe Pritsch, Ariel Oran, Guy Vogel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Irreparable rotator cuff tear (RCT) presents a difficult treatment challenge for the orthopaedic surgeon. Many treatment strategies with varying degrees of success have been performed over the years. One of the suggested surgical treatment options is the use of a biodegradable sub-acromial balloon spacer. Methods: A retrospective study of patients treated with sub-acromial balloon spacer between the years 2011 and 2016 was conducted. Mean follow-up time was 14.4 months. Patient charts were reviewed to evaluate the early clinical results and complications of subacromial spacer for irreparable RCTs. Results: The study cohort included 24 shoulders in 22 patients. The average postoperative Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand score was 62.4. The average preoperative University of California at Los-Angeles Shoulder score was 10.9 and improved to 15.9 (p = 0.001). Forty-six per cent of patients were satisfied with their clinical postoperative outcome. We found moderate–strong positive correlation (r = 0.64) between preoperative range of motion (ROM) and general satisfaction. None of the postoperative radiographs showed an improvement regarding the proximal migration of the humeral head. In total, four (16.7%) patients experienced postoperative complications, and two (8.3%) patients required an additional surgery as a consequence of a postoperative complication. Conclusion: Our results show unsatisfactory improvement in patients with irreparable RCT treated with the sub-acromial balloon spacer. Careful patient selection with attention to preoperative ROM should be considered. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic level IV.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Arthroscopy
  • Balloon
  • DASH
  • Irreparable tear
  • Massive
  • Rotator cuff
  • Salvage
  • Spacer
  • UCLA


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