header advert
You currently have no access to view or download this content. Please log in with your institutional or personal account if you should have access to through either of these
The Bone & Joint Journal Logo

Receive monthly Table of Contents alerts from The Bone & Joint Journal

Comprehensive article alerts can be set up and managed through your account settings

View my account settings

Get Access locked padlock


Outcomes associated with secondary implant removal and arthrolysis in patients with a painful stiff shoulder after proximal humeral fracture fixation

Download PDF



Open reduction and plate fixation (ORPF) for displaced proximal humerus fractures can achieve reliably good long-term outcomes. However, a minority of patients have persistent pain and stiffness after surgery and may benefit from open arthrolysis, subacromial decompression, and removal of metalwork (ADROM). The long-term results of ADROM remain unknown; we aimed to assess outcomes of patients undergoing this procedure for stiffness following ORPF, and assess predictors of poor outcome.


Between 1998 and 2018, 424 consecutive patients were treated with primary ORPF for proximal humerus fracture. ADROM was offered to symptomatic patients with a healed fracture at six months postoperatively. Patients were followed up retrospectively with demographic data, fracture characteristics, and complications recorded. Active range of motion (aROM), Oxford Shoulder Score (OSS), and EuroQol five-dimension three-level questionnaire (EQ-5D-3L) were recorded preoperatively and postoperatively.


A total of 138 patients underwent ADROM; 111 patients were available for long-term follow-up at a mean of 10.9 years (range 1 to 20). Mean age was 50.8 years (18 to 75);79 (57.2%) were female. Mean time from primary ORPF to ADROM was 11.9 months (6 to 19). Five patients developed superficial wound infection; ten developed symptomatic osteonecrosis/post-traumatic arthrosis (ON/PTA); four underwent revision arthrolysis. Median OSS improved from 17 (interquartile range (IQR) 12.0 to 22.0) preoperatively to 40.0 (IQR 31.5 to 48.0) postoperatively, and 39.0 (IQR 31.5 to 46.5) at long-term follow-up (p < 0.001). Median EQ-5D-3L improved from 0.079 (IQR -0.057 to 0.215) to 0.691 (IQR 0.441 to 0.941) postoperatively, and 0.701 (IQR 0.570 to 0.832) at long-term follow-up (p < 0.001). We found that aROM improved in all planes (p < 0.001). Among the variables assessed on multivariable analysis, a manual occupation, worsening Charlson Comorbidity Index and increasing socioeconomic deprivation were most consistently predictive of worse patient-reported outcome scores. Patients who subsequently developed ON/PTA reported significantly worse one-year and late OSS.


ADROM in patients with persistent symptomatic stiffness following ORPF can achieve excellent short- and long-term outcomes. More deprived patients, those in a manual occupation, and those with worsening comorbidities have worse outcomes following ADROM.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2022;104-B(1):157–167.

Correspondence should be sent to Navnit S. Makaram. E-mail:

For access options please click here