An operative technique for recurrent shoulder dislocations in older patients

Recurrent anterior shoulder dislocation in the elderly is not as exceptional as it was once thought to be. That anterior shoulder dislocation in older patients is caused by a rotator cuff tear through the posterior mechanism is well accepted. However, in the subset of patients who have multiple recur- rent or intractable dislocations develop, there may be combined pathologic conditions at work: large or massive rotator cuff tears together with anterior capsulolabral injuries such as a Bankart lesion or fracture of the glenoid rim. These patients have multiple recurrences because of disruption of both the anterior and the posterior stab&v mechanisms. We suggest a procedure that provides anterior stabilisation with the capsular shift technique and that is supplemented by Bankart repair as necessary. The capsule transfer is performed superiorly and posteriorly to close the defect in the cuff. In this way a capsulodesis effect can be achieved that displaces the humeral head downward and produces active centring of the head in the course of abduction. Use of only the anterior capsule for the shift, and not the subscapularis tendon, does not compromise subscapularis function. Between 1990 and 7996, we used this technique to treat 76 patients older than 55 years of age with multiple recurrent anterior shoulder dislocation and massive rotator cuff tear. We report the results for the first I o patients with a minimum follow-up of 2 years [range 2 to 7years] and an average follow-up of 52 months. There were 7 excellent results, 2 good results, and 7 fair result according to the Rowe criteria. None of the patients had a recurrence of the dislocation. All the patients regained full or functional range of motion with stable shoulders, and most of them could perform activities of daily living without /imitation. The average Constant score was 83%. This procedure appears to be successful in treating older patients with recurrent shoulder dislocation.

(J Shoulder Elbow Surg (1999) 8: 452-7.)