Young patients with shoulder dislocation are at high risk of recurrence. Traditionally, management has been conservative, but rehabilitative programmes are successful in fewer than 20% of patients. Recent studies suggest that early surgical intervention (arthroscopic lavage or stabilisation) can significantly reduce recurrence in young patients with primary traumatic anterior dislocation. This study demonstrated that in our region, 21% of all patients presenting with shoulder dislocation had already suffered recurrence at 1 year; in the 15-22 years age group this figure was 43%. We propose to offer young patients presenting with primary traumatic anterior dislocations arthroscopic lavage within 10 days of injury. The extra surgical workload is manageable within our current trauma service arrangements, and we believe that this form of treatment would be acceptable to patients.