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Papers of the Week

2022 Feb

Trauma Case Rep


Alleged recurrent traumatic shoulder dislocation in a young male patient – Diagnostic and management considerations.


Murphy B, Carroll P, Mc Colgan R, Molloy A, O'Shea K
Trauma Case Rep. 2022 Feb; 37:100599.
PMID: 35005172.


A young male presented to a nearby hospital with a left shoulder dislocation after an alleged kickboxing injury. The patient reported worrying clinical findings including excruciating pain and absent sensation distally. Reduction was successful but his shoulder re-dislocated shortly after. His reported symptoms worsened and he was transferred to our institution. Imaging findings were not immediately concerning and he went to theatre the next day for an examination under anaesthetic. His shoulder was re-located easily and an immobiliser applied. Less than an hour later, the patient managed to re-dislocate his shoulder in recovery. He was subjected to another general anaesthetic and successful reduction. He absconded the following day after being declined multiple and increasing doses of opioid analgesia. He re-presented three weeks later with similar clinical findings but a different mechanism of injury. Further exploration of his collateral history revealed that he had been using a false identity. He had presented to all hospitals in our city within the previous 6 months. Once confronted, he did not return to these hospitals. He was also capable of self-relocating his shoulder. This case bore a striking resemblance to a case described by Warren in 2000 of a young lady with an apparently dislocated shoulder presenting to multiple city hospitals looking for analgesia and general anaesthetics. We wished to highlight the diagnostic and ethical challenges associated with these patients. They are vulnerable and so a high index of clinical suspicion is needed on the part of the surgeon to avoid unnecessary interventions. Effective communication between orthopaedic departments is a key recommendation from this case to mitigate risk of harm to these patients.