Scapular manipulation technique for reduction of traumatic anterior shoulder dislocations: experiences of an academic emergency department

B Baykal, S Sener, H Turkan
Emergency Medicine Journal: EMJ 2005, 22 (5): 336-8

BACKGROUND: Shoulder dislocations account for almost 50% of all joint dislocations, which are most commonly anterior (90-98%) and occur due to trauma. This prospective study was conducted to report our experiences of using the scapular manipulation technique (SMT) to reduce traumatic anterior shoulder dislocations.

METHODS: Between March 2002 and March 2003, SMT was applied to 41 patients who presented with traumatic anterior shoulder dislocation to the Gulhane Military Medical Academy, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ankara, Turkey, which is a level 1 trauma centre with an annual attendance of 85,000 patients. The technique was applied to patients in the prone position by a single operator. Where necessary, a procedural sedation/analgesia (PSA) protocol was followed.

RESULTS: The study population consisted of 26 (63.4%) male patients aged between 17 and 76 years (SD 15.6). History of recurrent shoulder dislocations at the same site were taken from seven (17.1%) of the patients. Mean (SD) trauma to reduction time was approximately 61.5 (72) minutes (range 10-480). Five patients (12%) had a greater tuberosity fracture. SMT was attempted twice to only four (9.8%) patients by a standard PSA protocol. We experienced a success rate of 90.2% at the first attempt and 100% overall. None of the patients encountered any complication.

CONCLUSIONS: We report the successful use of SMT in the prone position for the reduction of traumatic anterior shoulder dislocations, mainly without requirement of any sedatives or opiate analgesics. We believe that SMT may also be applied by inexperienced physicians, as it is simple, applicable, and easily understood. As no single method has a 100% success rate, SMT is a useful one to know.

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