The Rotator Cuff-Deficient Arthritic Shoulder: Diagnosis and Surgical Management

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The symptomatic rotator cuff-deficient, arthritic glenohumeral joint poses a complex problem for the orthopaedic surgeon. Surgical management can be facilitated by classifying the disorder in one of three diagnostic categories: (1) rotator cuff-tear arthropathy, (2) rheumatoid arthritic shoulder with cuff deficiency, or (3) degenerative arthritic (osteoarthritic) shoulder with cuff deficiency. If it is not possible to repair the cuff defect, surgical management may include prosthetic arthroplasty, with the recognition that only limited goals are attainable, particularly with respect to strength and active motion. Glenohumeral arthrodesis is a salvage procedure when other surgical measures have failed. Arthrodesis is also indicated in patients with deltoid muscle deficiency. Humeral hemiarthroplasty avoids the complications of glenoid loosening and is an attractive alternative to arthrodesis, resection arthroplasty, and total shoulder arthroplasty. The functionally intact coracoacromial arch should be preserved to reduce the risk of anterosuperior subluxation. Care should be taken not to “overstuff” the glenohumeral joint with a prosthetic component. In cases of significant internal rotation contracture, subscapularis lengthening is necessary to restore anterior and posterior rotator cuff balance. If the less stringent criteria of Neer's “limited goals” rehabilitation are followed, approximately 80% to 90% of patients treated with humeral hemiarthroplasty can have satisfactory results.

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