Use of In-Space Balloons in Irreparable Cuff Tears


Irreparable cuff repairs present a difficult conundrum for shoulder surgeons, with no consensus on the best form of treatment. In-Space balloons (ISB) are a novel arthroscopic solution, seeking to reduce pain and improve function in patients suffering with this issue. Our aim was to evaluate the ISBs that had been inserted by one surgeon at our two local hospitals.


Oxford Shoulder Scores (OSS) were obtained for all patients as part of their preoperative assessment. The details of the patients with ISBs were prospectively collected and notes retrospectively analysed. Patients were contacted by phone and consented to take part in the study. Those who agreed were sent questionnaires based on the OSS and compared to their preoperative scores. Patients who went on to have reverse shoulder replacements were deemed to have failed treatment.


A total of fourteen ISBs were inserted arthroscopically in the last two years. Three patients progressed to having reverse shoulder replacements.


Over 75% of patients were satisfied with their treatment at an average of 12 months of followup, as shown by a reduction in their OSS. We have shown ISBs to be a commendable approach to treating irreparable cuff tears, delaying or removing the need for reverse shoulder replacements.

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