Occult, Incomplete, and Complete Posterior Labral Tears Without Glenohumeral Instability on Imaging Underestimate Labral Detachment

Jae Hyung Kim, Jonghyun Ahn, Sang Jin Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: To introduce a classification of posterior labral tear and describe clinical characteristics, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/magnetic resonance arthrography (MRA) findings, arthroscopic findings, and outcomes after arthroscopic repair for patients with posterior labral tears without glenohumeral instability. Methods: Sixty patients with posterior labral tear who underwent arthroscopic repair were analyzed retrospectively. Patients with shoulder instability were excluded. Tear patterns were classified into 3 types; occult (type 1), incomplete (type 2), and complete (type 3) based on MRI/MRA studies. A visual analog scale score for pain, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score, Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation score for satisfaction, and return to sports were evaluated at a minimum follow-up of 2 years. Computed tomography arthrography was performed at a year follow-up for assess labral healing. The diagnosis was confirmed in arthroscopy, and arthroscopic labral repair without capsular plication was performed. Results: The mean patient age was 30.4 ± 6.9 years, and all patients were male. Forty-four patients (73.3%) were participating in sports. MRI/MRA studies identified 10 patients with type 1, 18 with type 2, and 32 with type 3 tears. Type 1 tear patients showed a significantly longer symptom duration than those with type 3 (32.5 ± 17.2 vs 18.2 ± 17.1 months; P =.015). In arthroscopic findings, 70% of type 1 tear was confirmed as incomplete or complete tears. The American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score improved from 79.6 ± 10.3 to 98.1 ± 3.7, and pain was relieved from 2.4 ± 0.7 to 0.2 ± 0.5 at the last follow-up visit with high labral healing rate (95%). Thirty-nine (88.6%) patients returned to sports at preinjury levels. Conclusions: In active young men with shoulder pain during daily activities or sports despite programmed conservative treatment, posterior labral tears should be considered even when MRI/MRA findings are ambiguous. Arthroscopic posterior labral repair without capsular plication provided satisfactory clinical outcomes and a high labral healing rate. Level of Evidence: Level Ⅳ, case series.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalArthroscopy - Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

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© 2023 Arthroscopy Association of North America


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