Practice Patterns for Subacromial Decompression and Rotator Cuff Repair: An Analysis of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Database


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Abstract

Background:Recently there have been several evolving trends in the practice of shoulder surgery. Arthroscopic subacromial decompression has been performed with greater frequency by orthopaedic surgeons, and there has been considerable recent interest in arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. The purpose of this study was to identify trends in practice patterns for subacromial decompression and rotator cuff repair over time and in relation to the location of practice, fellowship training, and declared subspecialty of the surgeon.Methods:We reviewed the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery Part II database to identify patterns in the utilization of open and arthroscopic subacromial decompression and rotator cuff repair among candidates for board certification. All procedures involving only arthroscopic or open subacromial decompression and/or rotator cuff repair from 2004 to 2009 were identified. The rates of arthroscopic and open subacromial decompression and/or rotator cuff repair were compared in terms of year, geographic region, fellowship training, and declared subspecialty of the surgeon.Results:Between 2004 and 2009, 12,136 surgical procedures involving only arthroscopic or open subacromial decompression and/or rotator cuff repair were performed. There were significant differences in treatment with respect to year, geographic region of practice, declared subspecialty, and fellowship training (p < 0.001). There was a significant increase over time in the utilization of arthroscopy among all candidates (p < 0.001). Surgeons with sports medicine fellowship training or a sports-medicine-declared subspecialty performed significantly more subacromial decompressions and rotator cuff repairs arthroscopically than all other candidates (p < 0.001). During this time period, there was a significant decrease in the rate of arthroscopic subacromial decompression, both as an isolated procedure and combined with arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (p < 0.001).Conclusions:From 2004 to 2009, there was a significant shift throughout the United States toward arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and subacromial decompression among young orthopaedic surgeons, with sports medicine fellowship-trained surgeons performing more of their procedures arthroscopically than surgeons with other training. However, there was an increasing frequency of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair performed without subacromial decompression, and, overall, there was a decrease in the frequency of isolated arthroscopic subacromial decompression over time.

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