Surgical Information

Scapulothoracic Bursectomy/Partial Scapulectomy

What is scapulothoracic bursectomy/partial scapulectomy?

Scapulothoracic bursectomy/partial scapulectomy is a minimally invasive procedure to treat cases of snapping scapula syndrome that fail to respond to conservative measures. In this technique, the surgeon makes several small incisions and inserts a tiny camera (called an arthroscope) into the scapulothoracic joint. Small instruments are used to remove the inflamed bursa, as well as the upper corner of the scapula closest to the rib cage.

Arthroscopic surgery has many benefits to patients, including smaller incisions, less muscle and tissue trauma, less post-operative pain and a faster recovery.

Anatomy

The scapula (shoulder blade) is the bone that connects the humerus (upper arm) with the clavicle (collar bone) and upper back muscles. This flat, triangular-shaped bone forms the back of the shoulder girdle and helps you raise your arm and shoulder.

When is surgery recommended?

Most cases of snapping scapula syndrome respond well to non-operative treatment, including rest, activity modification, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory pain medications and steroid injections. However, if these measures fail to bring relief, or if symptoms worsen, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is also the preferred treatment in the case of a bone abnormality.

What is the recovery time?

Recovery from scapulothoracic bursectomy/partial scapulectomy typically takes three to four months. Following surgery, patients spend several weeks in a sling to allow the soft tissues to recover. Passive-motion physical therapy begins after the first week and full rehabilitation follows to restore active range of motion, strength and flexibility.