There are limited data available regarding the results of reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We performed a systematic review of the literature to investigate the radiological and clinical outcomes after RSA in patients with RA.

A literature search for publications between 1987 and 2014 was conducted by 2 independent reviewers using PubMed, Scopus, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. Articles were retrieved by an electronic search using keywords and their combinations. Studies that met inclusion criteria were assessed for pertinent data.

Seven studies including 123 shoulders met the inclusion criteria. The mean age of the patients was 67.9 years and the mean follow-up period was 46.6 months. The mean Constant score and American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) score increased from 18.6 and 27.5 preoperatively to 58.6 and 73.7, respectively, at the final follow-up evaluation. The mean active forward flexion, abduction, and external rotation increased from 57.2°, 50.4°, and 11.4° to 127.1°, 116.7°, and 26.4°, respectively. The incidence of scapular notching was 33.7%. Twenty-seven (22.0%) of 123 shoulders had one or more complications, 12 of which (44.4%) had intraoperative or postoperative fractures. Nine shoulders (7.3%) had one or more revision surgeries.

RSA in RA showed similar short- to mid-term results without higher complication rates as compared to RSA in cuff tear arthropathy. Although RSA can be considered a reliable treatment option in patients with RA, further large-scale studies are required to determine the long-term survival of the implant.

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