External rotation bracing for first-time anterior dislocation of the shoulder: A discontinued randomised controlled trial comparing external rotation bracing with conventional sling (2019)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Chan, Samuel Kl; *Bentick, Kieran R; Kuiper, Jan H; Kelly, Cormac P

Shoulder & elbow; Aug 2019; vol. 11 (no. 4); p. 256-264

Introduction: Itoi et al. introduced the concept of bracing in abduction and external rotation to treat traumatic anterior shoulder dislocations. However, controversy remains as studies have reported variable results. Our study investigates whether there is a difference in outcomes between treatment with a conventional sling or external rotation brace.
Methods: A prospective, multi-centre randomised control trial was conducted between 2006 and 2010. The study was discontinued early with 72 (36 cases in each group) first-time anterior shoulder dislocations recruited.
Results: The re-dislocation rate over 24 months was comparable 30% (95% CI: 17-47) sling vs. 24% (95% CI: 13-41) external rotation bracing. Sixteen percent (95% CI: 7-32) of sling patients and 12% (95% CI: 5-27) of external rotation-bracing patients had shoulder stabilisation surgery within 24 months of the initial dislocation (p > 0.05). There was no difference in OSI scores at 24 months between the two treatment groups and intolerability of the external rotation brace was high.
Conclusion: Recruitment to this study was difficult, and lost-to-follow-up rates were high leading to early discontinuation of the study. The results suggest that ER bracing is unlikely to provide clinical benefit in traumatic first-time anterior shoulder dislocation.