Portal placement is a key factor for the success of arthroscopic procedures, particularly in rotator cuff repair. We hypothesize that the acromial anatomy may strongly determine the position of the shoulder bony landmarks and limit the surgeon's freedom to position the arthroscopic approaches in direction towards the acromion. The purpose of this study was to analyze the relation between different acromial shapes and the freedom of movement of arthroscopic instruments relative to the rotator cuff from standardized arthroscopic portals in a laboratory study on 3D shoulder models.
3D models of shoulders with a broad range of different acromial shapes were printed using CT and MRI scans. Angles from the portals to defined points on the rotator cuff and the supraglenoid tubercle were measured. In conventional radiographs, the critical shoulder angle, the scapular body acromial angle, and the glenoid acromial angle were measured and compared with the measured angles to the rotator cuff.
There was a large variation of angles of approach of instruments to the rotator cuff between the seven shoulders for each portal. From the joint line portal and the posterior edge portal, the biggest angles were measured to the posterior cuff. From the intermediate portal, the angles were largest to the intermediate rotator cuff and from the anterior portals to the anterior cuff. To the supraglenoid tubercle, best access was from anterior. For all portals, there was a big correlation between the glenoid acromial angle and the scapular body acromial angle with the angles of approach to the tendon and especially to the supraglenoid tubercle.
The access to the rotator cuff from almost every portal is influenced by the acromial shape. As hypothesized, a small (small GAA) and flat (big SBAA) acromion provide an easier approach to the rotator cuff from almost every portal. Therefore, it may severely influence the instruments maneuverability.