The shoulder joint is comprised of the socket, which looks like a golf tee, and the upper part of the arm, the humeral head, which looks like a golf ball. Injury to shoulder ligaments and labrum can often render the shoulder joint unstable. Plus, multiple dislocations can wear away the glenoid, much like losing the edge of a golf tee. This bone loss makes the shoulder even more unstable.
"Bone loss is a very significant part of the problem," says UConn School of Medicine's Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine Dr. Robert Arciero, who was in the military early in his medical career, where he first learned that shoulder instability is actually more prevalent than ACL knee injuries.
The amount of bone loss a patient has in their shoulder actually changes the surgery a patient requires. Also, if bone loss in the shoulder joint is not treated, it can lead to failure after a less invasive procedure, such as an arthroscopic repair.
Coracoid bone graft transfer has been the gold standard used by orthopedic surgeons to address bone loss and to stabilize the shoulder joint. The coracoid is a local graft in the shoulder, taking a piece of a patient's own shoulder blade and transferring it to the front of their shoulder socket. This longstanding technique helps hold the ball in the socket of the shoulder joint to stop the joint's future dislocation.