Patients who have pain and dysfunction from glenohumeral arthritis associated with severe rotator cuff deficiency have few treatment options. The goal of this study was to retrospectively evaluate the short-term results of arthroplasty with use of the Reverse Shoulder Prosthesis in the management of this problem.

We report the results for sixty patients (sixty shoulders) with a rotator cuff deficiency and glenohumeral arthritis who were followed for a minimum of two years. Thirty-five patients had no previous shoulder surgery, whereas twenty-three had had either an open or arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, one had had a subacromial decompression, and one had had a biceps tendon repair. All patients were assessed preoperatively and postoperatively with the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scoring system for pain and function and with visual analog scales for pain and function. They were also asked to rate their satisfaction with the outcome. The shoulder range of motion was measured preoperatively and postoperatively.

The average age of the patients was seventy-one years. The average duration of follow-up was thirty-three months. All measures improved significantly (p < 0.0001). The mean total score on the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons system improved from 34.3 to 68.2; the mean function score, from 16.1 to 29.4; and the mean pain score, from 18.2 to 38.7. The score for function on the visual analog scale improved from 2.7 to 6.0, and the score for pain on the visual analog scale improved from 6.3 to 2.2. Forward flexion increased from 55.0 degrees to 105.1 degrees, and abduction increased from 41.4 degrees to 101.8 degrees. Forty-one of the sixty patients rated the outcome as good or excellent; sixteen were satisfied, and three were dissatisfied. There were a total of thirteen complications in ten patients (17%). Seven patients (12%) had eight failures, requiring revision surgery to another Reverse Shoulder Prosthesis in five patients (one shoulder had two revisions) and revision to a hemiarthroplasty in two patients because of deep infection.

The data from this study suggest that arthroplasty with the Reverse Shoulder Prosthesis may be a viable treatment for patients with glenohumeral arthritis and a massive rotator cuff tear. However, future studies will be necessary to determine the longevity of the implant and whether it will provide continued improvement in function.

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