Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I had a shoulder replacement for bad osteoarthritis five years ago that has come loose. Now it looks like I need a shoulder replacement on the other side as well. How can I keep this problem from happening again? I don't overuse that arm but I may have overused the "good" arm and wore it out so that now I need another replacement. I don't know what to think.


Total shoulder replacement for severe joint osteoarthritis has come a long way since its first use. But it isn't perfect yet. Ten to 15 per cent of patients receiving this implant later develop loosening of the glenoid component (socket side of the implant). The reason for glenoid component loosening is the focus of a recent study from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. What they found may be of interest to you. We don't know what you had. But the type of implant used for patients in the study was a polyethylene (plastic) press-fit (not glued in but pressed against the bone so that more bone would fill in around it) design. With that particular implant type, a peg in the center of the socket implant helps hold it in place until bone in-fill takes place. Loosening is observed on X-rays as osteolysis (bone loss as the body resorb bone cells) may be associated with a condition known as retroversion. Retroversion refers to a tipped back position of the socket. Because the socket does not line up symmetrically with the head of the humerus, retroversion may contribute to the osteoarthritic degenerative changes and later to the osteolysis leading to loosening. In this study, 66 patients who received the DePuy Anchor Peg Glenoid Component were followed up. All surgeries to implant the shoulder replacement were done by one surgeon. When there was too much retroversion, the surgeon did his best to correct the problem. He did this by shaving or cutting away excess bone along the front of the glenoid. The goal was to create a glenoid (socket) that was perpendicular to the scapula (body of the shoulder blade where the glenoid is located). In some cases, the surgeon was unable to obtain a perfect fit with complete correction. To get complete correction of glenoid retroversion would require taking off too much bone. It was better to remove as much bone as possible to re-align the glenoid but without taking so much that it was no longer possible to insert the glenoid component. To measure results, X-rays were taken before and after surgery and compared. About half of the patients also had pre-operative CT scans ordered when X-rays were not enough to fully see the glenoid. Repeating these imaging studies postoperatively made it possible for the surgeon to evaluate the bone, assess alignment (e.g., retroversion, accuracy of glenoid component to scapula interface), and look for any signs of implant loosening around the central peg. It turned out that pre- and postoperative glenoid retroversion was the main factor in osteolysis and peg loosening. More than 15 degrees of tilt still remaining after surgery contributed to early loosening. It is believed (but has not been conclusively proven yet) that the retroversion causes increased load on the humeral head. The surgeon concluded by suggesting that whenever possible, glenoid retroversion should be corrected to within 15 degrees before placing the implant into the shoulder. This also means that many things must be taken into account when preparing for shoulder replacement. The surgeon is advised to use advanced imaging studies to look for pathology (i.e., problems with alignment, presence of bone deficiency). Both X-rays and CT scans should be taken pre-operatively (CT scans before surgery were not standard practice at the time of this study). And special care must be taken when selecting the implant used in order to accommodate for pathology and alignment problems observed preoperatively. This information may help you in discussing your situation with the surgeon. Retroversion may not be an anatomic feature for you but if it is, these suggestions may help. In any case, careful evaluation of your situation may help identify risk factors that can be managed to avoid future problems with implant loosening. Jason C. Ho, MS, et al. Glenoid Component Retroversion is Associated with Osteolysis. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. June 19, 2013. Vol. 95A. No. 12. Pp. e82(1)-e82(8).

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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