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Shoulder & Elbow

The router bit extraction technique for removing a well-fixed humeral stem in revision shoulder arthroplasty

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A number of methods have been described to remove a well-fixed humeral implant as part of revision shoulder arthroplasty. These include the use of cortical windows and humeral osteotomies. The router bit extraction technique uses a high-speed router bit to disrupt the bone-implant interface. The implant is then struck in a retrograde fashion with a square-tip impactor and mallet. The purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics and frequency of the different techniques needed for the removal of a well-fixed humeral stem in revision shoulder arthroplasty.

Patients and Methods

Between 2010 and 2018, 288 revision shoulder arthroplasty procedures requiring removal of a well-fixed humeral component were carried out at a tertiary referral centre by a single surgeon. The patient demographics, indications for surgery, and method of extraction were collected.


Of the 288 revisions, 284 humeral stems (98.6%) were removed using the router bit extraction technique alone. Four humeral stems (1.39%) required an additional cortical window. Humeral osteotomy was not necessary in any procedure. Most of the humeral stems removed (78.8%) were cementless. Of the four humeral stems that required a cortical window, three involved removal of a hemiarthroplasty. Two were cemented and two were cementless.


The router bit extraction technique removed a well-fixed humeral component in a very high proportion of patients (98.6%). This method allows surgeons to avoid more invasive approaches involving a cortical window or humeral osteotomy, and their associated complications.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2019;101-B:1280–1284

Correspondence should be sent to J. W. Sperling; email:

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