Milch versus Stimson technique for nonsedated reduction of anterior shoulder dislocation: a prospective randomized trial and analysis of factors affecting success

Eyal Amar, Eran Maman, Morsi Khashan, Ehud Kauffman, Ehud Rath, Ofir Chechik
Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery 2012, 21 (11): 1443-9

BACKGROUND: The shoulder is regarded as the most commonly dislocated major joint in the human body. Most dislocations can be reduced by simple methods in the emergency department, whereas others require more complicated approaches. We compared the efficacy, safety, pain, and duration of the reduction between the Milch technique and the Stimson technique in treating dislocations. We also identified factors that affected success rate.

METHODS: All enrolled patients were randomized to either the Milch technique or the Stimson technique for dislocated shoulder reduction.

RESULTS: The study cohort consisted of 60 patients (mean age, 43.9 years; age range, 18-88 years) who were randomly assigned to treatment by either the Stimson technique (n = 25) or the Milch technique (n = 35). Oral analgesics were available for both groups. The 2 groups were similar in demographics, patient characteristics, and pain levels. The first reduction attempt in the Milch and Stimson groups was successful in 82.8% and 28% of cases, respectively (P < .001), and the mean reduction time was 4.68 and 8.84 minutes, respectively (P = .007). The success rate was found to be affected by the reduction technique, the interval between dislocation occurrence and first reduction attempt, and the pain level on admittance.

CONCLUSIONS: The success rate and time to achieve reduction without sedation were superior for the Milch technique compared with the Stimson technique. Early implementation of reduction measures and low pain levels at presentation favor successful reduction, which--in combination with oral pain medication--constitutes an acceptable and reasonable management alternative to reduction with sedation.

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