Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder News

Results of Shoulder Surgery for High-Risk Athletes

In 1997 Japanese researchers started a study of high-risk athletes with chronic shoulder instability. Arthroscopic surgery was done to repair the shoulder using special suture anchors or "buttons". The purpose of this study was to look at the results of the operation, especially the athletes' sports activities.

Only certain athletes were allowed in the study. They had to be younger than 25 years old or involved in overhead or contact sports. They all had at least one (sometimes more) partial or complete shoulder dislocation. They couldn't be included if there was major bone loss around the front of the shoulder joint. Failed surgery or a previous rotator cuff repair also kept athletes out of the study.

The final selection included 55 athletes who had surgery to repair a torn glenoid labrum. The glenoid labrum is a rim of cartilage in the shoulder joint. It helps deepen the shoulder socket and gives a place for some of the shoulder tendons and ligaments to attach. Patients were followed for up to six years. All patients wanted to get back to their sports activities but were limited by their unstable shoulders before the operation.

The authors describe the method used to repair the damage with special suture anchors. Patients were given instructions for activities and exercise for the first three months after the operation. They were allowed to go back to sports at four to six months.

Results were measured based on pain, stability, range of motion, and return to sports. Slightly more than 80 percent had excellent results. These athletes returned to their sport without restrictions. A few patients had another shoulder dislocation after recovery from the surgery. Overhead athletes were more likely to have a fair to poor result.

The authors conclude that the arthroscopic repair using a suture anchor to stabilize the shoulder works well for some athletes. Selecting the right patients for this operation is a key to success in returning to full sports activities.


Junji Ide, MD, PhD, et al. Arthroscopic Bankart Repair Using Suture Anchors in Athletes. Patient Selection and Postoperative Sports Activity. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. December 2004. Vol. 32. No. 8. Pp. 1899-1905.

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