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J Orthop Trauma. 2011 May;25(5):318-24. doi: 10.1097/BOT.0b013e3181f22088.

Reverse shoulder prosthesis for acute four-part fracture: tuberosity fixation using a horseshoe graft.

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  • 1Holy Cross Orthopaedic Institute, Ft Lauderdale, FL 33334, USA.


Results of hemiarthroplasty for complex four-part proximal humerus fractures in the elderly have been unreliable. Although patients often achieve pain relief, return of above-shoulder level function can be challenging, because tuberosity nonunion, malunion, and/or resorption is quite common. The reverse shoulder replacement has been advocated as a reliable alternative for these patients. Preliminary studies have suggested that tuberosity healing is critical for achieving external rotation strength after reverse shoulder arthroplasty. We describe a technique of tuberosity repair using a wedge horseshoe graft, which can provide improved surface area for tuberosity healing. A clinical series of seven patients treated with this technique is reported with a minimum follow-up of 12 months (range, 12-23 months). The tuberosity union rate was 86% (six of seven patients). Average active forward elevation was 117° (range, 95°-150°), and active external rotation was 19° (range 0°-30°). Visual analog scale pain scores averaged 0.6 (range, 0-1), visual analog scale function averaged 8.7 (range, 7-10), mean American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons pain was 47.1 (range, 45-50), and mean American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons function was 39.2 (range, 31-50). Subjective satisfaction ratings were excellent for four patients, and good for two, and satisfactory for one. No patients were unsatisfied with their outcomes. The horseshoe graft technique provides a reliable means for anatomic restoration of the tuberosities, facilitating the return of shoulder function in elderly patients with complex four-part proximal humerus fractures treated with a reverse total shoulder.

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