Complications of a failed Bristow procedure and their management.

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The management of patients who have a failed Bristow reconstruction of the shoulder is very complex. In order to determine the complications that occur when a Bristow procedure fails, and how they should be managed, we retrospectively evaluated forty shoulders in thirty-nine patients who had been treated by the senior one of us for a failed Bristow procedure from 1977 to 1987. The complications of the index Bristow procedures included recurrent painful anterior instability, injury to the articular cartilage, failure of the coracoid bone-block to unite with the glenoid, loosening of the screw, neurovascular injury, and posterior instability. The primary etiology of failure of the index Bristow procedure was excessive laxity of the capsule in thirty-two shoulders (80 per cent) that were affected by chronic, painful anterior or posterior instability. An untreated Perthes-Bankart lesion was present in the remaining eight shoulders (20 per cent). The use of anterior reconstruction for the revision of a failed Bristow procedure is a difficult operation that necessitates meticulous technique. As our over-all plan of treatment resulted in a good or excellent outcome in only 50 per cent of the patients, we do not recommend the Bristow procedure for primary treatment of symptomatic anterior instability of the shoulder.

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