Glenohumeral Chondrolysis After Shoulder Arthroscopy With Thermal Capsulorrhaphy


      Glenohumeral chondrolysis is a rare but devastating complication that can occur after shoulder arthroscopy and thermal capsulorrhaphy. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records and imaging studies of 8 patients in whom glenohumeral chondrolysis developed after shoulder arthroscopy in which thermal energy was used. Of the 8 patients, 5 had previous thermal capsulorrhaphy for the diagnosis of instability. Two patients were diagnosed with instability with associated labral tears and underwent labral repair with thermal capsular shrinkage. One patient was diagnosed with a labral tear and underwent labral debridement with an extensive glenohumeral synovectomy via a thermal probe. No patients had evidence of chondral damage at their index arthroscopy, and none received postoperative pain pumps. In all patients, radiographic evidence of chondrolysis developed and repeat arthroscopy was performed to confirm the diagnosis. Open surgical stabilization has not been known to have this complication, and it is speculated that heating of the joint fluid at the time of arthroscopy from any source plays a role in cartilage death. Further studies are warranted to determine whether adequate outflow during shoulder arthroscopy where the fluid volume is relatively small will aid in avoiding complications associated with the use of heat sources.

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