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The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 94-B, Issue 12 | Pages 1666 - 1669
1 Dec 2012
Gulotta LV Choi D Marinello P Wright T Cordasco FA Craig EV Warren RF

Reverse total shoulder replacement (RTSR) depends on adequate deltoid function for a successful outcome. However, the anterior deltoid and/or axillary nerve may be damaged due to prior procedures or injury. The purpose of this study was to determine the compensatory muscle forces required for scapular plane elevation following RTSR when the anterior deltoid is deficient. The soft tissues were removed from six cadaver shoulders, except for tendon attachments. After implantation of the RTSR, the shoulders were mounted on a custom-made shoulder simulator to determine the mean force in each muscle required to achieve 30° and 60° of scapular plane elevation. Two conditions were tested: 1) Control with an absent supraspinatus and infraspinatus; and 2) Control with anterior deltoid deficiency. Anterior deltoid deficiency resulted in a mean increase of 195% in subscapularis force at 30° when compared with the control (p = 0.02). At 60°, the subscapularis force increased a mean of 82% (p < 0.001) and the middle deltoid force increased a mean of 26% (p = 0.04).

Scapular plane elevation may still be possible following an RTSR in the setting of anterior deltoid deficiency. When the anterior deltoid is deficient, there is a compensatory increase in the force required by the subscapularis and middle deltoid. Attempts to preserve the subscapularis, if present, might maximise post-operative function.