Bone Joint J 2015;97-B:967–72.

Reverse shoulder arthroplasty as a salvage procedure after failed internal fixation of fractures of the proximal humerus

M. M. Hussey, S. E. Hussey, M. A. Mighell

Failed internal fixation of a fracture of the proximal humerus produces many challenges with limited surgical options. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical outcomes after the use of a reverse shoulder arthroplasty under these circumstances. Between 2007 and 2012, 19 patients (15 women and four men, mean age 66 years; 52 to 82) with failed internal fixation after a proximal humeral fracture, underwent implant removal and reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA). The mean follow-up was 36 months (25 to 60). The mean American Shoulder and Elbow Score improved from 27.8 to 50.1 (p = 0.019). The mean Simple Shoulder Test score improved from 0.7 to 3.2 (p = 0.020), and the mean visual analogue scale for pain improved from 6.8 to 4.3 (p = 0.012). Mean forward flexion improved from 58.7° to 101.1° (p < 0.001), mean abduction from 58.7° to 89.1° (p = 0.012), mean external rotation from 10.7° to 23.1° (p = 0.043) and mean internal rotation from buttocks to L4 (p = 0.034). A major complication was recorded in five patients (26%) (one intra-operative fracture, loosening of the humeral component in two and two peri-prosthetic fractures). A total of 15 patients (79%) rated their outcome as excellent or good, one (5%) as satisfactory, and three (16%) as unsatisfactory.


An improvement in outcomes and pain can be expected when performing a RSA as a salvage procedure after failed internal fixation of a fracture of the proximal humerus. Patients should be cautioned about the possibility for major complications following this technically demanding procedure.

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