Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I can't seem to get a straight answer from my doctor about my shoulder surgery. I have a shoulder that dislocates at least once a month. I know I need surgery but I can't decide whether to go with the open incision method or the arthroscopic approach. My doc says they are equally good for different reasons.


It may be best to let your surgeon decide. X-rays, MRIs, or CT scan results may give him or her all the information needed to plan the best method. Some surgeons start with an arthroscopic approach and switch to an open incision method if the damage is too great to repair arthroscopically.

There aren't too many studies comparing the results of patients with both kinds of surgery. There are many factors to consider. Patients may all have shoulder surgery but the type of damage and kind of repair needed can vary greatly. Even with the same problem, surgeons may use different methods of repair.

The measures of success may vary too. Comparing the results of one study to another isn't always possible. Some doctors may use range of motion and muscle strength as the final sign of success. Others may depend on patient reports of pain and function.

If you have confidence in your surgeon give him or her the go-ahead to use his or her best judgment in deciding the best approach for you. Keep the lines of communication open in case there are important decisions that are yours to make alone.

Nicholas G. H. Mohtadi, MD, FRCSC, et al. Arthroscopic Versus Open Repair for Traumatic Anterior Shoulder Instability: A Meta-analysis. In Arthroscopy. June 2005. Vol. 21. No. 6. Pp. 652-658.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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