The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Biodegradable subacromial spacer insertion for rotator cuff tears in May 2016. NICE is currently updating this guidance. The new guidance will be published shortly. Until then the NHS should continue to follow the recommendations outlined in the current version of the guidance. The Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee (IPAC) will consider this procedure review and NICE will issue an interventional procedures consultation document about its safety and efficacy for 4 weeks’ public consultation. IPAC will then review the consultation document in the light of comments received and produce a final interventional procedures document, which will be considered by NICE before guidance is issued to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Status Awaiting development
Technology type Procedure
Decision Selected
Reason for decision Anticipate the topic will be of importance to patients, carers, professionals, commissioners and the health of the public to ensure clinical benefit is realised, inequalities in use addressed, and help them make the best use of NHS resources
Process IP
ID number 1315
Description Inserting a biodegradable subacromial spacer aims to improve pain symptoms and restore shoulder function in patients with irreparable rotator cuff tears. The intention is to reduce subacromial friction through lowering the humeral head during shoulder abduction. It aims to be a less invasive and potentially safer alternative to reverse shoulder arthroplasty or tendon transfer, with shorter procedure and rehabilitation times. Inserting a biodegradable subacromial spacer is done with the patient under general or regional anaesthesia. The subacromial space is visualised using either arthroscopy or mini-open surgery. A surgical clearance of the damaged area is carried out. Measurements are taken to determine the required size of biodegradable spacer. The balloon-like spacer is then inserted into the subacromial space and inflated with saline solution. Once sufficient volume is reached, the balloon is sealed and left in situ. The balloon spacer is made from a biodegradable polymer and resorbs over a period of about one year.

Provisional Schedule

Committee meeting: 1 13 April 2023
Interventional procedure consultation 24 May 2023 - 22 June 2023
Committee meeting: 2 10 August 2023
Expected publication 25 October 2023

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Key events during the development of the guidance:

Date Update
07 June 2022 Awaiting development. Status change linked to Topic Selection Decision being set to Selected

For further information on how we develop interventional procedures guidance, please see our IP manual