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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2005 Jun;(435):126-33.

Scapulothoracic arthrodesis: indications, technique, and results.

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  • 1Department of Shoulder Service, W. B. Carrell Memorial Clinic, Dallas, TX, USA.


Twenty-two patients (24 shoulders) had a scapulothoracic arthrodesis for various clinical disorders including facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, scapular winging from serratus anterior palsy, painful scapular crepitation, and cleidocranial dysostosis. All patients were extremely disabled with pain and loss of function because of their symptomatic scapular winging, and many of the patients had multiple previous procedures on their shoulders before the scapulothoracic arthrodesis. The surgical indication was stabilization of painful scapulothoracic articulation to provide pain relief and allow functional use of the involved arm for activities of daily living. The surgical technique involved use of a semitubular plate and wire construct along the medial border of the scapula with the use of autograft (iliac crest) or allograft bone or both between the scapula and the rib cage. Patients were immobilized postoperatively for 12 weeks. Complications occurred in more than (1/2) of the patients and included pulmonary complications, hardware failure, pseudarthrosis, and persistent pain. Postoperatively, 20 of 22 (91%) patients thought that the pain in their shoulder complex was improved and were satisfied with their functional outcome. Scapulothoracic arthrodesis can improve function and reduce pain in the shoulder complex in patients with debilitating complex scapulothoracic dysfunction. However, the high incidence of complications with this procedure is a concern.


Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series--no, or historical control group). See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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