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Early Results of Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Allan A. Young, MD1; Margaret M. Smith, PhD2; Guillaume Bacle, MD3; Claudio Moraga, MD3; Gilles Walch, MD3
1 Sydney Shoulder Specialists, Suite 201, 156 Pacific Highway, St. Leonards, Sydney, NSW 2065, Australia
2 Kolling Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, Level 10, Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, Pacific Highway, St. Leonards, Sydney, NSW 2065, Australia
3 Centre Orthopédique Santy, 24 Avenue Paul Santy, F-69008 Lyon, France. E-mail address for G. Walch: walch.gilles@wanadoo.fr
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Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

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Investigation performed at Centre Orthopédique Santy, Lyon, France

Copyright © 2011 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2011 Oct 19;93(20):1915-1923. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.J.00300
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Rheumatoid arthritis affecting the shoulder is typically associated with rotator cuff compromise and can also result in severe glenoid erosion. Since reverse shoulder arthroplasty is capable of addressing both rotator cuff disorders and glenoid bone deficiencies, our aim was to evaluate the outcome of reverse shoulder arthroplasty in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and either or both of these associated conditions.


We performed eighteen primary reverse total shoulder arthroplasties in sixteen patients with rheumatoid arthritis involving the shoulder as well as associated rotator cuff compromise and/or severe erosion of the glenoid bone between 2002 and 2007. Patients were assessed with use of the Constant score, patient satisfaction score, subjective shoulder value, range of shoulder motion, and imaging studies.


The mean Constant score improved from 22.5 to 64.9 points at a mean of 3.8 years (range, 2.1 to 7.0 years) postoperatively. The patients were either very satisfied or satisfied with the outcome of the surgery in seventeen of the eighteen shoulders. The mean subjective shoulder value was 68.6% postoperatively. Active forward elevation improved from 77.5° to 138.6°, and external rotation with the arm in 90° of abduction improved from 16.9° to 46.1°. The mean Constant score improved from 28.0 points to 74.3 points in shoulders in which the teres minor muscle was normal before the surgery, and it improved from 20.8 to 54.6 points in shoulders with an atrophic teres minor muscle. Scapular notching was observed in ten of the eighteen shoulders. A fracture involving the acromion, acromial spine, coracoid, or greater tuberosity was observed either intraoperatively or postoperatively in four of the eighteen shoulders. One case of transient axillary nerve injury was noted. There were no cases of dislocation, infection, or component loosening. None of the patients required revision surgery for any reason.


Comparatively good outcomes were observed in the short to intermediate term after reverse shoulder arthroplasty in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, surgeons should be aware of the risk of intraoperative and postoperative fractures in this patient group.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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