Patients with a failed reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA) have limited salvage options. The aim of this study was to determine the outcome of revision RSA when used as a salvage procedure for a failed primary RSA.

We reviewed all revision RSAs performed for a failed primary RSA between 2006 and 2012, excluding patients with a follow-up of less than two years. A total of 27 revision RSAs were included in the study. The mean age of the patients at the time of revision was 70 years (58 to 82). Of the 27 patients, 14 (52% were female). The mean follow-up was 4.4 years (2 to 10).

Six patients (22%) developed complications requiring further revision surgery, at a mean of 1.7 years (0.1 to 5.3) postoperatively. The indication for further revision was dislocation in two, glenoid loosening in one, fracture of the humeral component in one, disassociation of the glenosphere in one, and infection in one. The five-year survival free of further revision was 85%. Five additional RSAs developed complications that did not need surgery, including dislocation in three and periprosthetic fracture in two. Overall, patients who did not require further revision had excellent pain relief, and significant improvements in elevation and external rotation of the shoulder (p < 0.01). The mean postoperative American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES), and simple shoulder test (SST) scores were 66 and 7, respectively. Radiological results were available in 26 patients (96.3%) at a mean of 4.3 years (1.5 to 9.5). At the most recent follow-up, six patients (23%) had glenoid lucency, which were classified as grade III or higher in three (12%). Smokers had a significantly increased risk of glenoid lucency (p < 0.01).

Revision RSA, when used to salvage a failed primary RSA, can be a successful procedure. At intermediate follow-up, survival rates are reasonable, but dislocation and glenoid lucency remain a concern, particularly in smokers. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2018;100-B:1493-98.

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