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Bone Joint J. 2019 Jan;101-B(1):15-21. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.101B1.BJJ-2018-0984.R1.

The aetiology of posterior glenohumeral dislocations and occurrence of associated injuries.

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Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
Queen Mary University London, London, UK.



The glenohumeral joint is the most frequently dislocated articulation, but possibly due to the lower prevalence of posterior shoulder dislocations, approximately 50% to 79% of posterior glenohumeral dislocations are missed at initial presentation. The aim of this study was to systematically evaluate the most recent evidence involving the aetiology of posterior glenohumeral dislocations, as well as the diagnosis and treatment.


A systematic search was conducted using PubMed (MEDLINE), Web of Science, Embase, and Cochrane (January 1997 to September 2017), with references from articles also evaluated. Studies reporting patients who experienced an acute posterior glenohumeral joint subluxation and/or dislocation, as well as the aetiology of posterior glenohumeral dislocations, were included.


A total of 54 studies met the inclusion criteria. In total, 182 patients were included in this analysis; study sizes ranged from one to 66 patients, with a mean age of 44.2 years (sd 13.7). There was a higher proportion of male patients. In all, 216 shoulders were included with 148 unilateral injuries and 34 bilateral. Seizures were implicated in 38% of patients (n = 69), with falls, road traffic accidents, electric shock, and iatrogenic reasons also described. Time to diagnosis varied across studies from immediate up to a delay of 25 years. Multiple associated injuries are described.


This review provides an up-to-date insight into the aetiology of posterior shoulder dislocations. Our results showed that seizures were most commonly implicated. Overall, reduction was achieved via open means in the majority of shoulders. We also found that delayed diagnosis is common.


Aetiology; Associated Injury; Bilateral; Dislocation; Glenohumeral; Posterior; Reverse Hill Sachs; Unilateral

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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