Core decompression is one treatment used for symptomatic osteonecrosis of the humeral head. The purpose of this report was to examine the long term outcome of this procedure. Sixty-three shoulders in 43 patients who underwent a core decompression for humeral head osteonecrosis were followed up from 2 to 20 years (mean, 10 years). None of these patients had responded to nonoperative treatment before core decompression. Results of core decompression according to preoperative Ficat and Arlet stage revealed Stage I disease had 15 of 16 (94%) successful outcomes and Stage II had 15 of 17 (88%) successful outcomes. Stage III had 16 of 23 (70%) successful results and Stage IV had one of seven (14%) successful result. Core decompression of the shoulder is a safe procedure with few recognized complications and can be performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure has been successful for Stages I, II, and III osteonecrosis in terms of early relief of pain and increased function.

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