Shoulder Elbow. 2019 Jul; 11(2 Suppl): 56–66.

Does proximal porous coating in short-stem humeral arthroplasty reduce stress shielding?

Martin T Tan,1 John W Read,2 and Desmond J Bokor3


Short-stem humeral designs in shoulder arthroplasty have been introduced recently. A retrospective cohort study was conducted to determine if newer proximal porous titanium coating in humeral short stems produced clinical and radiologic improvements.


Short-stem humeral implants (Tornier Ascend, Wright Medical) were used in 46 anatomical total shoulder replacements from October 2012 to December 2015. Clinical and radiologic measures were analyzed at one- and two-year follow-up.


Nineteen shoulders received earlier grit blasted stems (Ascend Monolithic), and 27 shoulders received the later stems with proximal titanium porous coating (Ascend Flex). At two-year follow-up, radiographic changes and stress shielding were similar. Medial cortical thinning were more frequently observed in Monolithic (18 of 19) compared to Flex stems (19 of 27) on the PA films, though this was not statistically significant (P = 0.061). Clinical outcome scores improved regardless of the stem type used and independent of the radiologic adaptations on plain films. One participant with the Ascend Flex developed glenoid component failure and rotator cuff tear and was subsequently revised.


Clinical and radiological outcomes are similar in both short-stem designs. Proximal titanium porous coating may reduce medial calcar cortical thinning but it does not prevent it.

Key message

When compared to similarly designed uncoated grit-blasted stems, proximally porous coated humeral short stems produced similar clinical and radiological results. The proximal titanium porous coating may reduce medial cortical thinning.

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