Researchers Examine Return to Sport after Shoulder Stabilization Surgery

    Returning to their sport in a timely manner and being able to perform at a high level are priorities for athletes who undergo shoulder stabilization surgery to treat shoulder instability. However, return to sport (RTS) is often difficult to predict and involves many variables, including:

    • Severity of the individual’s injury
    • Type of sport (overhead, collision, contact, recreational)
    • Athlete’s level of competition
    • Type of surgery
    • Compliance with rehabilitation

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

    • All surgical stabilization procedures allow a high rate of RTS participation.
    • Arthroscopic Bankart, or anterior labral repair surgery, showed the highest rate of RTS (97.5%)
    • Open Latarjet had the lowest rate of RTS (83.6%).
    • Arthroscopic Bankart had the highest rate of return to preinjury levels (91.5%).
    • Arthroscopic Latarjet had the lowest rate of return to preinjury levels (69.0%).
    • Open Latarjet procedure produced the fastest time to RTS (5.1 months).
    • Open Bankart surgery had the slowest RTS (8.2 months).

    “Although the data provide both patients and surgeons with the RTS rates after shoulder stabilization surgery, it is the surgeon’s responsibility to indicate the patients for the correct surgery based on factors including glenoid bone loss, associated lesions, and patient expectation,” said senior author Xinning Li, MD, 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.”


    Abdul-Rassoul H, Galvin J, Curry E, Simon J, Li X. Return to sport after surgical treatment for anterior shoulder instability: a systematic review. Am J Sports Med. 2018 Jun 1:363546518780934. doi: 10.1177/0363546518780934. [Epub ahead of print].