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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2019 Mar;28(3):437-444. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2018.08.025. Epub 2018 Dec 18.

Reverse shoulder arthroplasty for acute fractures in the elderly: is it worth reattaching the tuberosities?

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iULS-University Institute of Locomotion and Sport, Pasteur 2 Hospital, University of Côte d'Azur UCA, Nice, France. Electronic address:
Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Spaarne Ziekenhuis, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.
iULS-University Institute of Locomotion and Sport, Pasteur 2 Hospital, University of Côte d'Azur UCA, Nice, France.
Centre Chirurgical Émile Gallé, Nancy, France.
Centre de Chirurgie Orthopédique et de la Main, Illkirch-Graffenstaden, France.
Chirurgie orthopédique et traumatologique, Hôpital Trousseau, Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Tours, Tours, France.



Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty (RSA) may be indicated in displaced proximal humerus fractures in elderly patients. We hypothesized that tuberosity fixation and healing around the prosthesis would result in better outcomes and patient satisfaction.


Thirty-eight acute displaced or dislocated 3- and 4-part fractures in elderly patients were treated with reattachment of the tuberosities around a RSA. The mean age at surgery was 80 ± 4 years (range, 70-88 years). A specific reverse fracture stem that incorporated a cancellous bone autograft (harvested from the fractured head) and a standardized suturing technique for tuberosity fixation were used in all operations. Patients were evaluated and radiographed with a minimum 2-year follow-up (mean 36 ± 8 months).


The tuberosity union rate was 84% (32 of 38). There were 4 tuberosity resorptions and 2 tuberosity migrations with nonunion, which were associated with significantly lower subjective results (Subjective Shoulder Value of 65% vs. 83%, P = .029) and lower active mobility in forward elevation (115° ± 26° vs. 141° ± 25°, P = .023) and external rotation (11° ± 12° vs. 27° ± 12°, P = .010). Among the 5 disappointed patients, 3 presented with tuberosity resorption and 2 with tuberosity migration and nonunion.


Despite the advanced age of the patients, tuberosity reattachment and use of bone graft results in a high rate of tuberosity healing. Tuberosity reconstruction and healing in reverse shoulder arthroplasty for fractures improves active forward elevation, external rotation, and patient satisfaction.


Proximal humeral fractures; complications; elderly patient; malunion or migration; reverse shoulder prosthesis; tuberosity nonunion

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