Pseudodislocation of the shoulder

Pseudodislocation of the shoulder results from an occult fracture with distension of the glenohumeral joint due to haemarthrosis that causes inferior displacement of the humeral head compared to the glenoid.

This may be mistaken for shoulder joint dislocation. Often, attempts are made to "relocate" the humeral head, which is both fruitless and painful. Therefore pseudodislocation of the humerus is one of the skeletal "do not touch" lesions.

Radiographic features

Plain radiograph

On an AP view, the head of the humerus is inferiorly subluxed and mimics a posterior shoulder dislocation.  An axial or trans-scapular view shows it is not anteriorly or posteriorly displaced and there is no glenohumeral dislocation.


May be useful for detection of occult fracture which is causing haemarthrosis.

Treatment and prognosis

The joint can be aspirated to show the normal position of the humeral head when the fluid has been removed from the joint.

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Article information

rID: 23007
Section: Gamuts
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Pseudodislocation of the humerus
  • Humeral pseudodislocation
  • Humeral pseudodislocation
  • Shoulder pseudosubluxation
  • Shoulder pseudodislocation
  • Humeral pseudosubluxation
  • Pseudosubluxation of the shoulder
  • Pseudosubluxation of the glenohumeral joint

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