Effects of the glenoid labrum and glenohumeral abduction on stability of the shoulder joint through concavity-compression: An in vitro study

A. M. Halder, S. G. Kuhl, M. E. Zobitz, D. Larson, K. N. An

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Background: Although the glenohumeral joint is the most mobile articulation of the human body, it is known to exhibit ball-and-socket kinematics. Compression into the glenoid labral concavity keeps the humeral head centered. The purpose of the present study was to determine the effects of joint position on glenohumeral stability through concavity-compression. Methods: Ten cadaveric shoulders were tested. The glenoid was mounted horizontally onto a six-component loadcell while the humerus was clamped to a vertically unconstrained slide. An x-y stage translated the load-cell with the glenoid underneath the humeral head in eight different directions. Compressive loads of 20, 40, and 60 N were applied. The tests were repeated in 0°, 30°, 60°, and 90° of glenohumeral abduction with and without the labrum. Relative translations between the glenoid and the humeral head and the forces resisting translation were recorded. Then the stability ratio, defined as the peak translational force divided by the applied compressive force, was calculated. Results: The average stability ratio was higher in the hanging-arm position than it was in glenohumeral abduction. The highest stability ratio was detected in the inferior direction (59.8% ± 7.7%) when the labrum was intact and in the superior direction (53.3% ± 7.9%) when the labrum had been resected. Under both conditions, the anterior direction was associated with the lowest stability ratio (32.0% ± 4.4% with the labrum and 30.4% ± 4.1% without the labrum). Resection of the glenoid labrum resulted in an average decrease in the stability ratio of 9.6% ± 1.7%. With increasing compressive load, the average stability ratio slightly decreased. Conclusions: Glenohumeral stability through concavity-compression was greater in the hanging-arm position than it was in glenohumeral abduction. The average contribution of the labrum to glenohumeral stability through concavity-compression was approximately 10%, about one-half of the value previously reported. With the labrum intact, the glenohumeral joint was most stable in the inferior direction. Without the labrum, it was most stable in the superior direction. Under both conditions, it was least stable in the anterior direction. Glenohumeral joint stability through concavity-compression decreases with higher compressive loads. Clinical Relevance: Anterior dislocation of the shoulder may be facilitated by the lower stability demonstrated in glenohumeral abduction. The labrum may not contribute to glenohumeral stability as much as was previously assumed. However, even moderate compressive forces are sufficient to provide stability through concavity-compression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1062-1069
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Surgery

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