Thermal capsular shrinkage for shoulder instability - Mid-Term Longitudinal Outcome Study

We present the short- and medium-term clinical results of thermal shrinkage in selected groups of patients with multidirectional or capsular stretch-type instability. We treated 56 patients (61 shoulders) by laser-assisted capsular shrinkage (LACS) and 34 patients (38 shoulders) by radiofrequency (RF) capsular shrinkage. The two groups were followed for mean periods of 40 months and 23 months, respectively. In the LACS group the mean Walch-Duplay score improved to 90 points 18 months after the operation, but then declined to a plateau of about 80 points; 59% of patients considered their shoulders to be ‘much better’ or ‘better’ but there was a failure rate of 36.1%. For the RF group the mean Walch-Duplay and Constant scores were 80 points at the various follow-up times; 76.3% of patients considered their shoulder to be ‘much better’ or ‘better’. RF failed in nine shoulders (23.7%). These results match some clinical series of patients with multidirectional instability, undergoing open inferior capsular shift, with a similar rate of failure. We believe that the minimal morbidity involved makes thermal shrinkage a viable alternative to open capsular shift in this difficult group of patients.

(J Bone Joint Surg [Br] 2001;83-B:640-5.)