Elastofibroma dorsi is an uncommon, benign, slow-growing soft-tissue tumour of uncertain aetiology. It classically presents as an ill-defined mass at the inferior pole of the scapula with symptoms which include swelling, discomfort, snapping, stiffness and occasionally pain. We report the symptoms, function and outcome after treatment of 21 elastofibromas in 15 patients. All were diagnosed by MRI and early in the series four also underwent CT-guided biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. In all, 18 tumours were excised and three were observed. After excision, the mean visual analogue score for pain decreased from 4.6 (0 to 10) pre-operatively to 2.4 (0 to 8) post-operatively (p = 0.04). The mean shoulder function, at a mean follow-up of 4.2 years (3 months to 16 years), was 78.1% (30 to 100) using the Stanmore percentage of normal shoulder assessment scoring system. The mean range of forward flexion improved from 135 degrees (70 degrees to 180 degrees ) to 166 degrees (100 degrees to 180 degrees ) after excision (p = 0.005). In four patients a post-operative haematoma formed; one required evacuation. Three patients developed a post-operative seroma requiring needle aspiration and one developed a superficial infection which was treated with antibiotics. Our findings support previous reports suggesting that a pre-operative tissue diagnosis is not necessary in most cases since the lesion can be confidently diagnosed by MRI, when interpreted in the light of appropriate clinical findings. Surgical excision in symptomatic patients, is helpful. It has been suggested that elastofibroma is caused by a local tissue reaction and is not a true neoplastic process. A strong association has been noted between elastofibroma and repetitive use of the shoulder, which is supported by our findings.
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