Background: There is no consensus on the optimal method of stabilization (arthroscopic or open) in collision athletes with anterior shoulder instability. Purpose: To examine the effect of "subcritical" bone loss and football-specific exposure on the rate of recurrent shoulder instability after arthroscopic stabilization in an intercollegiate American football population. Study Design: Case-control study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Fifty intercollegiate football players underwent primary arthroscopic stabilization for anterior shoulder instability and returned to football for at least a single season. Preoperatively, 32 patients experienced recurrent subluxations, and 18 patients experienced a single or recurrent dislocation. Shoulders with glenoid bone loss >20%, an engaging Hill-Sachs lesion, an off-track lesion, and concomitant rotator cuff repair were excluded from the study. The primary outcome of interest was the ability to return to football without subsequent instability. Patients were followed for time to a subsequent instability event after return to play using days of exposure to football and total follow-up time after arthroscopic stabilization. Results: Fifty consecutive patients returned to American football for a mean 1.5 seasons (range, 1-3) after arthroscopic stabilization. Three of 50 (6%; 95% CI, 1.3%-16.5%) patients experienced recurrent instability. There were no subsequent instability events after a mean 3.2 years of military service. All shoulders with glenoid bone loss >13.5% (n = 3) that underwent arthroscopic stabilization experienced recurrent instability upon returning to sport, while none of the shoulders with <13.5% glenoid bone loss (n = 47) sustained a recurrent instability event during football (X2 = 15.80, P <.001). Shoulders with >13.5% glenoid bone loss had an incidence rate of 5.31 cases of recurrent instability per 1000 athlete-exposures of football. In 72,000 athlete-exposures to football with <13.5% glenoid bone loss, there was no recurrent instability. Significantly more anchors were used during the primary arthroscopic stabilization procedure in patients who experienced multiple preoperative instability events (P =.005), and lesions spanned significantly more extensive portions along the circumference of the glenoid (P =.001) compared with shoulders having a single preoperative instability event before surgical stabilization. Conclusion: Arthroscopic stabilization of anterior shoulder instability in American football players with <13.5% glenoid bone loss provides reliable outcomes and low recurrence rates.
- return to play
- shoulder instability