[Treatment strategy in first traumatic anterior dislocation of the shoulder. Plea for a multi-stage concept of preventive initial management]

Unfallchirurg. 1998 May;101(5):328-41; discussion 327. doi: 10.1007/s001130050278.
[Article in German]


The purpose of this paper is to outline the treatment protocol for the first time traumatic anterior shoulder dislocator, with options including conservative, arthroscopic and open surgical treatment. Regarding the subclassification of the first time traumatic anterior dislocater, it is imparitive to differentiate between the unidirectional dislocator with and without hyperlaxity. This subclassification takes into account the structural quality of the stabilizing ligamentous structures of the glenohumeral capsule. The patient with hyperelastic ligaments exhibit elastic deformation of the glenohumeral ligaments at the time of dislocation and thus, sustain less interstitial structural damage to the ligament. Therefore, these patients benefit from non-operative treatment. There are extrinsic and intrinsic factors which determine the outcome of the primary traumatic anterior shoulder dislocation. Extrinsic factors are those that are not related to changes in the shoulder morphology. The most important extrinsic factor is the age of the patient at the time of injury. The younger the patient at the time of injury the greater the risk of recurrence. As a rule, those patients 25 years of age or less, at the time of initial injury are less likely to spontaneously stabilize without surgical intervention, than they are to develop recurrence. Secondly, the type and level of sport participation is related to recurrence. Although the severity of the trauma can not be quantified, it certainly has an influence on recurrence. Immobilization remains controversial. A rehabilitation program is more likely to be successful in atraumatic instability. Patient compliance is important regardless of the type of treatment selected. Intrinsic factors include injury to the various anatomic structures about the shoulder, occurring at the time of primary anterior shoulder dislocation. A deep Hill Sachs lesion is more likely to result in recurrence secondary to both the impaction of the bone, as well as, the reduction of the area of articular surface. A displaced bony Bankart is a highly unstable situation secondary to the loss of the butress to retain the humeral head. In contrast to a Hill Sachs lesion or a bony Bankart, a concomittent fracture of the greater tuberosity is unlikely to result in recurrent dislocation. Isolated laberal detachment is not related to recurrence, but a complete disruption of the laberal ligament complex is highly correlated with recurrence. A rare subluxation erecta, as a special form of traumatic inferior instability, has a high recurrence rate. With increasing age there is a higher risk of concomittent rotator cuff tear. In most situations surgical repair of the rotator cuff tear results in resolution of the instability. The essential issue in determining the treatment protocol is to define concomittent hyperlaxity in the injured shoulder. Concomittent hyperlaxity precludes initial surgical treatment. The orthopedic surgeon treating the patient at the time of injury needs to design a concise treatment protocol for the patient based on the assessment of the extrinsic and intrinsic factors. An unreducable shoulder dislocation or associated vascular injury requires emergent intervention. Absolute indications for surgical treatment include: persistent dislocation, bony Bankart, a grossly displaced greater tuberosity fracture, and rupture of the subscapularis tendon. Surgical stabilization of primary anterior traumatic dislocation is indicated if the following strict criteria are met: adequate trauma, no self reduction, unidirectional instability without hyperlaxity, Hill Sachs lesion, age below 26 years, high level of sport activity and the special situation of luxatio erecta. Post primary stabilization is indicated for persistent subluxation, subjective instability or demonstrated pathologic instability tests. Rotator cuff tears due to traumatic dislocation in the elderly population require surgical repair.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Endoscopy
  • Humans
  • Immobilization
  • Joint Instability / classification
  • Joint Instability / complications
  • Joint Instability / rehabilitation
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Shoulder Dislocation / classification
  • Shoulder Dislocation / etiology
  • Shoulder Dislocation / rehabilitation*