Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common shoulder disorder that impacts shoulder functions. Shoulder arthroplasty is often required to restore function and quality of life. Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (RSA), which was originally designed mainly for irreparable rotator cuff damage, has gained popularity in recent years for the treatment of advanced shoulder OA instead of the clinically standard total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA). However, this RSA has some nonnegligible flaws such as higher complications rate and economic cost, not mention the following problems caused by irreversible physical structural damage. Therefore, the employment of RSA needs to be carefully considered. This study aimed to compare TSA and RSA in OA patients with or without rotator cuff damage to better guide clinical decision making. We believe the radical use of RSA in patients without rotator cuff deficiency may cause more harm than good. We queried the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database from 2011 to 2014 to collect information on OA patients who received TSA and RSA. Patients were divided into 2 groups of comparison according to the presence of rotator cuff deficiency and matched with propensity score analysis. A total of 57,156 shoulder arthroplasties were identified. RSA patients in the rotator cuff deficiency group had significant higher transfusion rates and longer hospital stays. RSA patients without rotator cuff deficiency had a statistically significantly higher number of implant-related mechanical complications, acute upper respiratory infections and postoperative pain. Overall, RSA incurred higher costs in both groups. For OA patients with rotator cuff deficiencies, RSA has its benefits as complication rates were comparable to TSA. For those patients without rotator cuff deficiencies, the use of RSA should be reconsidered as there were more complications with higher severity.

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