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General Orthopaedics


Current Concepts in Joint Replacement (CCJR) – Spring 2015


Large osteochondral defects of the glenohumeral joint are difficult to treat in young, active patients. When initial non-operative treatment with physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, and viscosupplementation fails, surgery may become an option for some patients.

Traditional shoulder arthroplasty and hemiarthroplasty provide excellent function and pain relief that can be long-lasting, but these treatments are still very likely to fail during a young patient's lifetime, and results have been unsatisfactory in many younger patients. Microfracture and autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) have been used in the shoulder, but their use has been limited to small defects. Other techniques that incorporate soft-tissue coverage of larger osteochondral defects have the benefit of preserving bone, but have not provided consistently good results.

Advanced surgical techniques have been developed including all-arthroscopic osteochondral graft resurfacing of the humerus and glenoid for the treatment of osteoarthritis. This method of ‘biological resurfacing’ of the joint without using prosthetic implants may offer potential benefits to these young patients with shoulder arthritis including faster rehabilitation, pain relief, and easier revision surgery, if necessary. Early outcomes are encouraging in many cases, but inconsistent overall, with pain relief being the most reliable indicator of patient satisfaction.