A Bone Graft to Rebuild Your Shoulder

If your shoulder is prone to recurrent dislocations, a surgery known as a Bankart procedure is often used to stabilize the joint. However, that surgery often fails because the repair is not strong enough or the shoulder socket is damaged. In that case, a shoulder bone graft may be required.

In a shoulder bone graft, the goal is to deepen and build up the rim (or “lip”) of the shoulder socket (the glenoid) to provide greater stability to the joint and give the shoulder muscles and tendons more to “hold onto.” The surgeon takes the necessary bone from your hip (specically, the iliac crest, at the front near the belt line) and uses medical-grade screws to affix the graft into place at the front of the shoulder socket.

The surgery itself takes about two hours, but a hospital stay of two to four days is common. Postoperative management is very important. While recovering, you will learn the necessary range-of-motion rehabilitation exercises to be performed at home after you are discharged from the hospital.

For about six weeks, you will not be lifting heavy objects with the affected arm, but the range-of-motion (ROM) exercises are very important virtually from day one postoperatively to prevent the formation of scar tissue. At around week two, you can begin gentle day-to-day activities. After six weeks, strengthening exercises will usually be added, along with those that enhance flexibility.

We will monitor your progress periodically until your goals for strength and ROM are met, which can take several months or more. Even then, routine gentle stretching helps maintain your shoulder’s newly improved function. And progress can continue for up to a year after surgery.

If you and your physician decide that a shoulder bone graft is right for you, we will be glad to work with your surgeon to develop a postoperative rehabilitation program. The result can be a faster recovery, a successful surgical outcome and a shoulder free of new dislocations.