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Shoulder & Elbow

Five-year outcome after conversion of a hemiarthroplasty when used for the treatment of a proximal humeral fracture to a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty

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The reasons for failure of a hemirthroplasty (HA) when used to treat a proximal humeral fracture include displaced or necrotic tuberosities, insufficient metaphyseal bone-stock, and rotator cuff tears. Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (rTSA) is often the only remaining form of treatment in these patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical outcome after conversions from a failed HA to rTSA.

Material and Methods

A total of 35 patients, in whom a HA, as treatment for a fracture of the proximal humerus, had failed, underwent conversion to a rTSA. A total of 28 were available for follow-up at a mean of 61 months (37 to 91), having been initially reviewed at a mean of 20 months (12 to 36) postoperatively. Having a convertible design, the humeral stem could be preserved in nine patients. The stem was removed in the other 19 patients and a conventional rTSA was implanted. At final follow-up, patients were assessed using the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) score, the Constant Score, and plain radiographs.


At final follow-up, the mean ASES was 59 (25 to 97) and the mean adjusted Constant Score was 63% (23% to 109%). Both improved significantly (p < 0.001). The mean forward flexion was 104° (50° to 155°) and mean abduction was 98° (60° to 140°). Nine patients (32%) had a complication; two had an infection and instability, respectively; three had a scapular fracture; and one patient each had delayed wound healing and symptomatic loosening. If implants could be converted to a rTSA without removal of the stem, the operating time was shorter (82 minutes versus 102 minutes; p = 0.018).


After failure of a HA in the treatment of a proximal humeral fracture, conversion to a rTSA may achieve pain relief and improved shoulder function. The complication rate is considerable.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2018;100-B:761–6.

Correspondence should be sent to M. Holschen; email:

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