Context: It remains unknown if arthroscopic repair of recurrent anterior shoulder instability is as effective as open repair.
Objective: The purpose of this study is to analyze the literature to provide clinical recommendations regarding the most appropriate therapeutic intervention for recurrent anterior shoulder instability.
Study design: Systematic review of level I and II studies.
Data sources: PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and secondary references from 1967 to March 2010 were appraised for studies that met the inclusion criteria.
Study selection: Inclusion criteria were English-language level I or level II trials involving the treatment of recurrent anterior shoulder instability. Exclusion criteria included non-English-language studies; level III, IV, or V studies; and trials examining treatment of first-time shoulder dislocation, posterior shoulder dislocation, or diagnoses other than recurrent anterior shoulder dislocations.
Data extraction: Included studies underwent quality appraisal independently by each author identifying strengths, weaknesses, and biases.
Results: Four randomized controlled trials compared the use of arthroscopic and open repair for recurrent anterior shoulder dislocations. These studies show no statistically significant difference between the 2 operative approaches. No long-term follow-up data describing the effects of either surgical approach are available at this time. Each investigation had weaknesses in study design that decreased the validity of its findings.
Conclusions: While limited, the available evidence from randomized controlled trials does not show a statistically significant difference in redislocation rates, return to activity, and functional outcomes between the arthroscopic and open repair groups. Range of motion is marginally better following arthroscopic treatment when compared with open repair. Recommendations on the optimal surgical intervention cannot be provided.
Keywords: arthroscopic; open; recurrent anterior shoulder instability; repair; systematic review.