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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2006 Jan-Feb;15(1):19-22.

Complications of total shoulder arthroplasty: are they fewer or different?

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902, USA.


There has been significant evolution of total shoulder arthroplasty design and improvement in technique over the past 25 years, but there is no information available as to whether this has translated into lower complication rates or different sorts of complications. The purpose of this study was to determine the contemporary complications and their frequency. Between 1990 and 2000, 431 total shoulder arthroplasties were performed with a cemented all-polyethylene glenoid component. Follow-up averaged 4.2 years. Complications were categorized by type as early or late and as minor, major, or major requiring reoperation. In total, 53 surgical complications occurred in 53 patients (12%). Of these, 32 were major complications (7.4%), with 17 of these requiring reoperation. Index complications in order of frequency included rotator cuff tearing, postoperative glenohumeral instability, and periprosthetic humeral fracture. Notably, glenoid and humeral component loosening requiring reoperation occurred in only 1 shoulder. Developing a complication was unrelated to diagnosis, previous surgery, age, sex, humeral head size, or cementing or not cementing the humeral component. Data from the contemporary patient group suggest that there are fewer complications of shoulder arthroplasty and less need for reoperation. Especially striking is the near absence of component revision because of loosening or other mechanical factors. Periprosthetic humeral fractures are more common; the explanation for this warrants further study.

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