The Buford complex: prevalence and relationship with labral pathologies

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2021 Jun;30(6):1356-1361. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2020.08.037. Epub 2020 Sep 16.


Background: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of the Buford complex and to investigate its association with labral pathologies (superior labrum anterior-posterior [SLAP] lesion and anterior, posterior, or multidirectional instability) using a very large patient database. Furthermore, the prevalence of the Buford complex in patients without any labral pathology was also determined.

Methods: A total of 3129 consecutive shoulder arthroscopy procedures were retrospectively evaluated for the presence of the Buford complex and coexisting labral pathologies. The relationships between the Buford complex and SLAP lesions, as well as instability, were evaluated statistically.

Results: The Buford complex was observed in 83 shoulders (2.65%). SLAP lesions were significantly more frequent in patients with the Buford complex than in those without it (81.9% vs. 33.1%, P < .001) Shoulders with the Buford complex presented a lower frequency of anterior instability (10.8% vs. 19.3%, P = .052) and a higher frequency of posterior instability (1.2% vs. 0.9%, P = .789). The prevalence of the Buford complex in patients with and without labral pathologies was 4.6% and 0.3%, respectively (P < .001).

Conclusions: This study, to our knowledge, includes the largest cohort in the literature reporting the prevalence of the Buford complex (2.65%). In the 1461 patients without labral tears or multidirectional instability, the prevalence of the Buford complex was 0.3%. This result suggests that the real prevalence of the Buford complex might be lower than that reported previously. In addition to the aforementioned conclusions, the identification of the Buford complex should prompt a thorough evaluation for concomitant SLAP lesions.

Keywords: Buford complex; SLAP lesions; anterior instability; labrum; middle glenohumeral ligament; posterior instability.