The glenoid is a flat part of the shoulder blade, making up the socket of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint. It is covered by articular cartilage and the shoulder labrum, a deeper kind of cartilage required for shoulder stability. Fractures of the glenoid are relatively uncommon and are typically the result of high-impact traumatic incidents or sports injuries.
While some glenoid fractures can be treated nonsurgically, fractures in which the bone has moved out of place (displaced fractures) may require surgery. During this procedure, called an open reduction, internal fixation (ORIF), the bone segments are moved into place and secured by attaching metal plates to the segments with screws. The procedure is generally performed under general anaesthesia.
Who is a candidate?
Patients who have glenoid fractures that have displaced fractures or whose glenoid cartilage surface side has been damaged are generally candidates for surgical intervention. As glenoid fractures are relatively uncommon, there is a lack of consensus on a preferred course of treatment.
Who is not a candidate?
Patients whose glenoid fractures can be treated with nonsurgical treatment or who have conditions that complicate surgery under general anaesthesia are not good candidates for glenoid fracture repair.
Like other surgeries, glenoid fracture repair requires a pre-operative assessment of your glenoid fracture and overall physical health to ensure that surgery is the best treatment course. You should inform your orthopedic surgeon of any medications or supplements you take, and comply with certain general surgery procedures such as preoperative blood testing and possible cessation of smoking or use of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs one week prior. You will likely be asked to stop eating or drinking the night before the surgery.
Immediately after the procedure, you will likely feel some pain. You may be given prescription pain relievers for discomfort. You may experience temporary stiffness, swelling or pain, but these symptoms should subside with time.
A physical therapy regimen might be necessary to restore movement and strengthen your shoulder, which may require a physical therapist or at-home exercises recommended by your surgeon. Full recovery, including union (fusing) of the fracture, can take up to 9 weeks.
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications related to scarring, bleeding, blood clots, infection or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Risks specific to glenoid fracture repair include injury to nerves and vessels near the fracture, non-union of the fracture, as well as long term shoulder stiffness.
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