In patients with a rotator cuff-deficient shoulder, a combined loss of active elevation and external rotation (CLEER) can occur when both the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles are absent. A reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA) can restore active elevation in these patients but cannot restore active external rotation because there are no other external rotator cuff muscles. We hypothesized that a modified L'Episcopo procedure (latissimus dorsi [LD] and teres major [TM] transfer) with a simultaneous RSA would restore shoulder function and activities of daily living (ADLs).

Seventeen consecutive patients (mean age, 71 years) with CLEER underwent this combined procedure through a single deltopectoral approach and were prospectively monitored for at least 12 months. All patients had severe cuff tear arthropathy and advanced atrophy or fatty infiltration of the infraspinatus/teres minor muscles on preoperative magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scans. The patients were immobilized in 30 degrees of abduction and external rotation for 6 weeks postoperatively before starting rehabilitation.

Mean active elevation increased from 74 degrees preoperatively to 149 degrees postoperatively (+75 degrees ), and external rotation increased from -21 degrees to 13 degrees (+34 degrees ). Patient satisfaction, subjective shoulder value, Constant-Murley scores and ADLs all improved significantly. DISCUSSION & CONCLUSIONS: In patients with CLEER, the association of RSA with LD/TM transfer restores active elevation and external rotation. The combined procedure, performed in the same session through a deltopectoral approach, is indicated in a selected subgroup of patients with a rotator cuff-deficient shoulder and an absent or atrophied infraspinatus/teres minor muscles. Our technique is easier to perform than the two-incision procedure and appears to avoid problems such as extensive scarring, adhesions and axillary nerve lesions. Transferring both the LD and TM, rather than the LD alone, results in better active external rotation.

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