I Have Chronic Shoulder Instability. Can You Explain What a Bankart Repair is?

Dear Dr. Millett,

I have chronic shoulder instability and am interested in learning more about the Bankart Reconstruction surgery technique to treat this condition. Is this surgery effective for this injury?

John M.

Dear John,

Thank you for your question. Within the shoulder there are many ligaments and tendons that provide stability to the shoulder while at the same time allow the joint to be extremely mobile. When a person dislocates their shoulder to the front, the most common direction, the labrum and associated ligaments can be torn. When the anterior-inferior ligament in the shoulder is torn together with the labrum, it is called a Bankart Lesion. A Bankart Reconstruction Surgery or Bankart Repair is an operation which tightens and repairs the damaged labrum and re-tensions the ligaments. Anchors are used to attach the ligament and labrum back to the shoulder socket. I often use the Bankart reconstruction surgery on patients with chronic shoulder instability.
In even more severe cases of chronic shoulder instability, I will on occasion use a transplanted tendon (from another part of the body or from a cadaver) to make new ligaments and cartilage, which then act to prevent dislocation and stabilize the chronically unstable shoulder.

I perform a Bankart-type capsulolabral reconstruction surgery on many patients with chronic instability. It is almost always performed arthroscopically. The procedure is effective and successful greater than 95% of the time. You can read more about the Bankart reconstruction surgery and about chronic shoulder instability on my website.