Open shoulder instability repair and reconstruction


Because the shoulder is the joint in the human body with the greatest field of mobility, it is also prone to injury and instability. In some cases, some people - especially athletes such as pitchers and swimmers - can experience recurring dislocations.

Open shoulder instability repair, sometimes called open shoulder stabilization, is a treatment used to stabilize the shoulder joint when dislocation becomes a regular, recurring injury. It is an alternative to arthroscopy, a type of minimally invasive surgery to repair tears and dislocations in the joints, when a patient’s unique case does not allow for the procedure or would be better served by open surgery. 

Anatomy of the shoulder

The shoulder is composed of the following:

  • Clavicle (collarbone)
  • Scapula (shoulder blade)
  • Humerus (upper arm bone)
  • Rotator cuff (group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of the upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder)

Bursa (a lubrication sac sitting between the humerus and the acromion, the technical name for the outward end of the shoulder blade) 

Risks and side effects

The risks and side effects of open shoulder repair are the same as with any surgery:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling and pain at the incision site
  • Numbness or tingling of the arm or hand

Preparing for treatment

Because it is more invasive than arthroscopic surgery, which is typically done on an outpatient basis, open surgical repair may require a short hospital stay. Be sure to follow your physician’s guidelines on when to stop eating and drinking prior to the surgery, when to take any medications and how to best prepare for your procedure.