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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2014 Jan;23(1):e8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2013.04.012. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

The outcome of scapulothoracic arthrodesis using cerclage wires, plates, and allograft for facioscapulohumeral dystrophy.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Electronic address:
Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.



Scapulothoracic arthrodesis is a recognized treatment for impaired shoulder function in patients with facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) and is traditionally performed with autograft. The purpose of the study was to report our experience with scapulothoracic arthrodesis in patients with FSHD using allograft, rather than autograft, with particular respect to the effect of fusion on preoperative and postoperative Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) scores; forced vital capacity (FVC); and complications.


The early results of 14 consecutive scapulothoracic arthrodeses in FSHD patients with cerclage wires, plates, and allograft (fresh-frozen femoral heads) are reported. DASH scores were recorded preoperatively and 6 months postoperatively. Preoperative and 6-month FVCs were compared. The surgical technique is described.


Eleven patients underwent 14 fusions. The mean follow-up period was 29 months (range, 6-50 months). Forward flexion improved from 70° to 115° (P = .001) and abduction from 68° to 109° (P = .007). The DASH score improved from 48 points to 34 points (P = .005). FVC decreased from 98% to 92% of predicted (P = .021), although this was not clinically significant. One patient required revision for nonunion, and metalwork was removed in 5 scapulae. A postoperative chest infection developed in 1 patient and a pleural effusion in another. One brachial plexus palsy occurred, which had almost completely resolved by 27 months postoperatively.


Scapulothoracic arthrodesis can be performed successfully with allograft. The nonunion and complication rates are similar to those in the existing literature. A small decrease in FVC does occur but not to a clinically significant level.


Case Series; Level IV; Scapulothoracic arthrodesis; Treatment Study; allograft; facioscapulohumeral dystrophy; pulmonary function

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