Objectives Recurrent instability is common after shoulder dislocation in the young, particularly those engaged in physical jobs or sport. The management of recurrent traumatic shoulder instability is predominantly operative. However, the best method of surgery i.e. open or arthroscopic is still a matter of debate. We have developed an algorithm to decide on the choice of surgery and the aim of this study is to report this and compare the two different groups of military patients.
Methods A retrospective review of all shoulder stabilisations performed on military personnel, by a single surgeon, between August 2004 and August 2005 at a district general hospital serving both military and civilian population was undertaken. The presentation, clinical and operative findings were noted and compared in the groups treated by arthroscopic or open stabilisation.
Results Using our protocol 39 shoulder stabilisations were performed in military personnel. Of the shoulders, 25 (64%) underwent arthroscopic and 14 (36%) underwent open stabilisation. The indication for surgery was more than 2 episodes of shoulder dislocation. Open surgery was found to be more common in those who had their first dislocation at a younger age. Bilateral shoulder laxity was the most common indication to choose the open method. Both open and arthroscopic stabilisation gave good results in the high demand military population. Only one patient had recurrent instability after arthroscopic procedure. However, this was not statistically significant when compared with open stabilisation.
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