Fluid temperatures during arthroscopic subacromial decompression using a radiofrequency probe

Published online: Apr 27 2009

Howard Davies, Henry Wynn-Jones, Thomas De Smet, Phillip Johnson, Shameem Sampath, Søren Sjølin

From West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, United Kingdom


Our aim was to investigate the temperatures reached in the subacromial space during radiofrequency ablation of the subacromial bursa, in order to see if the probes generate sufficiently high temperatures to cause chondrolysis of the articular surfaces in the glenohumeral joint. We recorded the maximum temperatures in the subacromial space during arthroscopic subacromial decompression on 30 consecutive patients using a sterile digital temperature probe (Series 400, DeRoyal, TN, USA). Both the mean (27.8°C) and maximum (41.8°C) temperatures reached were below the experimental thresholds for chondrocyte damage. At 2 year follow-up we report no cases of chondrolysis or other complications related to the radiofrequency probes and conclude that given the relatively low maximum temperatures generated by the probes the risk of adverse effects is minimal.