Original Article| Volume 36, ISSUE 12, P2965-2972, December 2020

Prognosis After Arthroscopic Superior Medial Scapuloplasty for Snapping Scapula Syndrome Improves After a Transient Beneficial Response With an Ultrasound-Guided Subscapular Cortisone Injection

Published:September 01, 2020DOI:



      To evaluate the prognostic value of an ultrasound-guided subscapular local anesthetic and cortisone injection in a consecutive series of patients who underwent an arthroscopic superior medial scapuloplasty for snapping scapula syndrome (SSS) and had been refractory to conservative treatment.


      We undertook an arthroscopic superior medial scapuloplasty on patients with a clinical diagnosis of SSS who had failed a structured physiotherapy program and had either gained a good response or no to minimal response to preoperative ultrasound-guided subscapular local anesthetic and cortisone injection. The patients were assessed preoperatively and at final follow-up with the QuickDASH and Constant scores, and their pain was assessed with a visual analog scale (VAS).


      Between January 2009 and December 2016, 47 patients were included in the study, with a minimal follow-up of 2 years. There were 29 female and 18 male patients, and the mean age at the time of surgery was 27.4 years (range 15 to 61). Forty-two patients were available at final follow-up. There were 31 patients in the good response group and 11 patients in the no to minimal response group. For all patients, the mean time to follow-up was 41.8 months (range 24 to 108). There was a significant improvement after surgery in the mean QuickDASH score (from 39 to 20, P < .001) (minimal clinically important difference [MCID] 15.91) , Constant score (from 57 to 87, P < .001) (MCID 10.4), and VAS (from 6 to 2, P < .001) (MCID 3). For the good response group, there was a significant improvement after surgery in the mean QuickDASH score (from 38 to 18, P < .001) (MCID 15.91), the Constant score (from 57 to 89) (MCID 10.4), and the VAS (from 6 to 2, P < .001) (MCID 3). For the no to minimal response group, there was a significant improvement after surgery in the mean QuickDASH score (from 42 to 24, P < .01) (MCID 15.91), the Constant score (from 58 to 80, P < .002) (MCID 10.4), and the VAS (from 6 to 2, P < .01) (MCID 3). The difference in postoperative improvement of the QuickDASH and Constant scores between the good response and the no to minimal response groups was statistically significant (P < .05).


      The results of this study suggest that arthroscopic scapuloplasty can lead to a significant improvement in pain and function in all patients with a clinical diagnosis of snapping scapula syndrome refractory to conservative treatment. Patients who gained a good transient response to a preoperative ultrasound-guided subscapular cortisone injection obtained a significantly better recovery than those who did not. A preoperative ultrasound-guided subscapular cortisone injection appeared to be of prognostic value.
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      Linked Article

      • Editorial Commentary: Snapping Scapula Syndrome: Predictors of Outcomes After Arthroscopic Treatment
        ArthroscopyVol. 36Issue 12
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          Snapping scapula syndrome and scapulothoracic bursitis are rare, often painful or functionally limiting conditions that can present owing to underlying anatomic abnormalities or can be idiopathic in nature. When there are no underlying structural abnormalities, diagnosis can be challenging and frequently patients will present with chronic pain having received multiple diagnostic and treatment modalities with no success. Injections into the scapulothoracic bursa, in conjunction with physical therapy, have been shown to be effective for the patient with snapping scapula syndrome and/or scapulothoracic bursitis, when recognized.
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