Researchers determine the rate of return to sport after shoulder surgery

July 2, 2018, Boston University School of Medicine

Athletes with shoulder instability injuries often undergo shoulder stabilization surgery to return to sport (RTS) and perform at their preinjury activity level. Returning to sports in a timely fashion and being able to perform at a high level are priorities for these athletes undergoing surgery. Time and ability to RTS is often difficult to predict and based on a myriad of variables, including the individual's severity of injury, the type of sport (overhead, collision, contact, recreational), the athlete's level of competition, compliance with the rehabilitation program and type of surgery.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) performed a of the literature to evaluate both the time and rate of RTS after different stabilization procedures (arthroscopic and open) for anterior shoulder instability and found the following:

While all surgical stabilization procedures allow a high rate of RTS participation, patients who underwent arthroscopic Bankart or anterior labral repair surgery showed the highest rate of RTS (97.5 percent) as well as the highest rate of return to preinjury levels (91.5 percent) whereas patients who underwent arthroscopic Latarjet had the lowest rate of return to preinjury levels (69.0 percent). They also found the open Latarjet procedure produced the fastest time to RTS (5.1 months) while the open Bankart surgery had the slowest RTS (8.2 months).

"Although this data provides both patients and surgeons with the RTS rates after shoulder stabilization surgery, it is surgeon's responsibility to indicate the patients for the correct based on factors including glenoid bone loss, associated lesions, and patient's expectation." explained senior author Xinning Li, M.D., associate professor of Orthopedic Surgery at BUSM. "We hope this study will provide a guide for physicians and a time frame for athletes with respect to the mean percentage and time for RTS after different surgical procedures for anterior shoulder instability," added Li, an orthopedic surgeon at the Boston Medical Center.

Hussein Abdul-Rassoul, Joseph Galvin, Emily Curry, Jason Simon, and Xinning Li. Return to Sport after Surgical Treatment for Anterior Shoulder Instability: A Systematic Review. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Published online June 27th 2018.

Explore further: Return-to-play rates high for football players after shoulder instability surgery

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