MR arthrography of the posterior labrocapsular complex: relationship with glenohumeral joint alignment and clinical posterior instability

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2003 Feb;180(2):369-75. doi: 10.2214/ajr.180.2.1800369.


Objective: The purpose of our study was to investigate the relationship between tears of the posterior labrocapsular complex and glenohumeral alignment on MR arthrography and the presence and extent of posterior labrocapsular tears in patients with posterior instability.

Materials and methods: Posterior labrocapsular tears identified on 24 MR arthrograms and surgically confirmed were evaluated for length of tear and labrocapsular avulsion. These examinations and a comparison cohort of 70 normal MR arthrograms with normal findings were also evaluated for humeral head position relative to the glenoid fossa. Medical records were reviewed for clinical diagnosis of posterior instability and history of shoulder trauma.

Results: The position of the humeral head relative to the glenoid was significantly more posterior in patients with posterior labral tear than in patients with a normal posterior labrum (4.9 mm versus 0.7 mm; p < 0.0001). The mean length (+/- SD) of posterior labral tear was 15.9 +/- 1.7 mm, and a direct correlation was found between tear length and posterior humeral translation (r = -0.65; p = 0.002). Posterior labral tears were significantly longer (18.6 vs 13.1 mm; p = 0.04), and posterior humeral translation was greater (6.4 vs 3.4 mm; p = 0.006) in patients with labrocapsular avulsion than in those without avulsion. Twelve (50%) of the patients with posterior labrocapsular tear had posterior instability, and 10 (83%) had a history of macrotrauma. On MR arthrography, the mean posterior humeral translation was greater (6.2 mm +/- 0.08; p = 0.019), posterior labral tears were longer (19.4 mm +/- 1.7; p = 0.0008), and labrocapsular avulsion was more common (83%; p = 0.0001) in patients with posterior instability than in patients who had a posterior labral tear but a clinically stable shoulder.

Conclusion: Clinical posterior instability is associated with excessive posterior humeral translation, long posterior labral tears, and posterior labrocapsular avulsion.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Humerus / pathology
  • Joint Instability / pathology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / injuries
  • Ligaments, Articular / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Shoulder Dislocation / diagnosis
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • Shoulder Joint / pathology*