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Arthrosc Sports Med Rehabil


PURPOSE: To investigate the impact of arthroscopic shoulder labral repair without shoulder instability on career longevity, game use, and performance in National Hockey League (NHL) athletes.

METHODS: A retrospective review of all NHL players who underwent arthroscopic shoulder labral repair from 2004 to 2020 was performed. A 2:1 matched control group was used for comparison. Controls were matched by age, body mass index, position, and experience prior to the index year. Demographic characteristics, game use, and performance metrics were collected for all athletes. Statistical analysis examined game use and performance both at 1-year and 3-year follow-up compared with one season before injury.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine players who underwent arthroscopic shoulder labral surgery returned to play (100%) and were matched with 55 control players. The operative cohort experienced shorter careers compared with controls (4.4 ± 3.1 vs 6.0 ± 3.6 seasons, P < .05). After one season, injured players experienced significant reductions in goals per 60 (0.6 ± 0.4 vs 0.8 ± 0.5, P = .013), points per 60 (1.5 ± 0.9 vs 2.0 ± 0.9, P = .001), and shooting percentage, (8.5 ± 5.8 vs 10.5 ± 5.2, P = .02) compared with the year prior. The reduction in goals (0.6 ± 0.4 vs 0.8 ± 0.5, P = .01) and shooting % (8.5 ± 4.7 vs 10.5 ± 5.2, P = .04) persisted at 3 years. Compared with controls, the surgical group experienced significant reductions at one season postindex in percentage of goals, assists, points per 60, and shooting percentage. Only the reduction in goals per 60 persisted at 3 seasons postindex.

CONCLUSIONS: Following return to play after arthroscopic shoulder labral repair, NHL players demonstrated reduced career longevity compared with healthy controls. Players exhibited significant reductions in game use and performance at one season after injury but returned closer to baseline after 3 seasons.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III; retrospective case control.

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