Anterior shoulder instability involves a range of disorders and can be classified by magnitude (subluxation, dislocation), time course (acute, recurrent, chronic), and etiology (traumatic, atraumatic). The most common cause of anterior shoulder instability is a traumatic injury creating an initial dislocation, often associated with a Bankart lesion, in which the anteroinferior glenoid labrum and inferior glenohumeral ligament are detached from the glenoid. Historically, anterior glenohumeral instability has been addressed with open and arthroscopic techniques, both of which have led to promising results. However, in some cases complications lead to unsatisfactory patient outcomes. For discussion purposes, the complications associated with anterior shoulder instability repair can be divided into preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative groups.
When they occur, complications may significantly impact patient outcomes and function. Therefore, surgeon awareness and identification of the factors associated with these complications may help prevent occurrence. Although failure of instability repair can be classified as a complication of surgery, it requires an entirely separate discussion and is therefore not addressed in this article. Because most of the previously published studies on anterior shoulder instability have emphasized surgical technique and clinical outcomes, the purpose of this article is to define the complications associated with anterior instability repair and provide recommendations on techniques that may be used to help avoid them.