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Children's Orthopaedics

Surgical treatment of Sprengel’s shoulder

Experience at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute 1975–2010

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The outcome of 56 children (61 shoulders) treated surgically at the Rizzoli Institute between April 1975 and June 2010 for congenital elevation of the scapula is reported. There were 31 girls and 25 boys with a mean age at surgery of 6.4 years (2 to 15). The deformity involved the right shoulder in 20 cases, the left in 31 and was bilateral in five. The degree of the deformity was graded clinically and radiologically according to the classifications of Cavendish and Rigault, respectively. All patients underwent a modified Green procedure combined, in selected cases, with resection of the superomedial portion of the scapula and excision of any omovertebral connection. After a mean follow-up of 10.9 years (1 to 29.3), there was cosmetic improvement by at least one Cavendish grade in 54 shoulders (88.5%). The mean abduction of the shoulder improved from 92° (50° to 155°) to 112° (90° to 170°) and the mean flexion improved from 121° (80° to 160°) to 155° (120° to 175°). The unsatisfactory cosmetic result in seven shoulders was due to coexistent scoliosis in two cases and insufficient reduction of the scapular elevation in the other five. An incomplete upper brachial plexus palsy occurred post-operatively in three patients but resolved within seven months.

We suggest that a modified Green procedure combined with resection of the superomedial portion of the scapula provides good cosmetic and functional results in patients with Sprengel’s shoulder.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr G. L. Di Gennaro; e-mail:

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