Postsurgical chondrolysis of the shoulder

Matthew D. Saltzman, Deana Mercer, Alexander Bertelsen, Winston Warme, Frederick Matsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


There are multiple reports in the literature of chondrolysis following arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Although the etiology of these cases is not known for certain, there has been speculation that radiofrequency devices, young patient age, instability surgery, intra-articular pain pumps, and type of anesthetic may be precipitating factors. This article describes a case of a 37-year-old law enforcement officer who injured both shoulders and ultimately underwent nearly identical bilateral procedures: arthroscopic superior labrum anteroposterior (SLAP) repair, Bankart repair, capsulorrhaphy, acromioplasty, and distal clavicle excision. Intra-articular pain catheters were placed following both procedures, but the right-sided catheter never functioned properly, as evidenced by continuous leakage outside of her body until it was removed. Subsequently she had an arthroscopic lysis of adhesions done for residual stiffness, in which the left humeral head and glenoid cavity were noted to be completely devoid of articular cartilage. Over the ensuing months, multiple cortisone injections, 5 viscosupplementation injections, physical therapy, and narcotics all failed to relieve her left shoulder pain. Radiographs showed significant left glenohumeral joint space narrowing and a normal-appearing joint space on the right. Our impression was postsurgical chondrolysis of the left shoulder. The patient has recently undergone humeral hemiarthroplasty with nonprosthetic glenoid arthroplasty. This case differs from others reported in the literature in that nearly identical bilateral procedures were performed by the same surgeon, yet chondrolysis only developed on the side that had a functioning postoperative pain catheter. Copyright ® 2009 SLACK Incorporated. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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