Luxatio erecta humeri is a rare type of glenohumeral dislocation. The pathomechanics of this injury involve either direct axial loading on a fully abducted extremity or leverage of the humeral head across the acromion by a hyperabduction force. The clinical presentation of this type of shoulder dislocation is unique, with the affected extremity held rigidly above the head in abduction. Reduction is accomplished by a form of traction-countertraction under intravenous sedation and analgesia. A variety of neurologic and vascular injuries may be associated with luxatio erecta humeri, involving the brachial plexus and axillary artery, respectively. Concomitant fracture of the acromion, clavicle, coracoid, greater tuberosity, and humeral head may also be seen. A computed tomography scan of the case reviewed here revealed a large humeral head defect oriented perpendicular to the classic Hill-Sachs lesion. Luxatio erecta humeri is associated with significant late morbidity, including recurrent dislocation, instability, and adhesive capsulitis.
From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Denver General Hospital, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado.
Reprint requests to Richard D. Talbott, M.D., Director, Department of Orthopaedics, Denver General Hospital, 777 Bannock St., Denver, CO 80204–4507.
Received: August 10, 1988.