Thermal capsulorrhaphy in internal shoulder impingement : A 7-year follow-up study

Published online: Jun 27 2012


From Monica Orthopedic Research (MoRe) Foundation, Monica Hospital, Antwerp Belgium and the Lievensberg Hospital, Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands


This study aimed to evaluate the long-term results of arthroscopic thermal shrinkage of the anterior capsule in athletes with internal shoulder impingement. In recent years, opinion with regards to the aetiology of internal shoulder impingement has changed significantly. The traditional treatment of internal impingement consisted of debridement of labral and/or undersurface cuff lesions. The use of concomitant thermal capsulorrhaphy, based on the concept of anteroinferior laxity, has also been advocated with excellent short-term results. In this study we investigated the long-term effects of this technique. Twelve overhead athletes with internal impingement underwent traditional arthroscopic treatment plus thermal capsulorrhaphy for internal impingement. All patients were evaluated 1, 2 and 7 years postoperatively using a questionnaire regarding their sports activity, and the modified Rowe score. At 1, 2 and 7 years postoperatively there was a significant improvement in the modified Rowe score when compared to the preoperative scores. However, follow-up at 7 years showed a significant deterioration of the initial 1 and 2 year results (p < 0.001), with only 25% of the athletes able to perform sports at their preoperative level. Conclusion : Excellent short-term results with thermal capsulorrhaphy, in addition to traditional arthroscopic treatment, in patients with internal shoulder impingement were not sustained over time. After 7 years, only 25% of the athletes were able to perform sports at their preoperative level.