3 The procedure
3.1 Biodegradable subacromial spacer insertion aims to improve pain symptoms and restore shoulder function in patients who have irreparable rotator cuff tears. The intention is to reduce subacromial friction by lowering the humeral head during shoulder abduction. It aims to be a less invasive and potentially safer alternative to tendon transfer or shoulder arthroplasty, with shorter procedure and rehabilitation times.
3.2 Biodegradable subacromial spacer insertion is done with the patient under general or regional anaesthesia. The subacromial space is visualised using either arthroscopy or minimal access open surgery. A surgical clearance of the damaged area is carried out. Measurements are made to determine the required size of the 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 1 year.