August 09, 2018
2 min read

Glenohumeral arthrodesis can provide pain relief, but carries complications

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Glenohumeral arthrodesis was shown to relieve pain, but patients were at high risk for complications and limited shoulder function, according to study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

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Eric R. Wagner

“Given the preoperative disability many of these patients are faced with and the lack of alternatives, glenohumeral fusion is able to relieve pain and maintain a reasonable level of function over the long term,” Eric R. Wagner, MD, a co-author of the study, told “However, this is a complex procedure associated with a high rate of complications and functional limitations. The study highlights that this is especially true in the paralytic shoulder, where alternatives to glenohumeral fusion should be exhausted prior to considering this procedure.”

The retrospective study included 29 patients who underwent glenohumeral arthrodesis between 1992 and 2009 and had a mean follow-up of 12 years. Wagner and his colleagues examined demographic characteristics, comorbidities, surgical indications, operative information on prior treatments, pain relief, range of motion and patient surveys. Patient surveys included the DASH, shoulder subjective value and SF-36 questionnaires and questions regarding their satisfaction, limitations and employment.

Results showed 29 patients experienced reasonable pain relief and 34% of patients reported moderate or severe postoperative pain. Postoperative complications developed in 41% of patients and included nonunion, periprosthetic fracture and infection. Overall, 38% of patients underwent additional surgical procedures. The mean scores for patient questionnaires were 58 for the DASH, 35 for the shoulder subjective value and 54 for the SF-36. According to patient surveys, 43% of patients returned to work full-time and 30% returned to work part-time.

Investigators found 87% of patients reported postoperative limitations; however, patients with neurological injuries experienced greater limitations than those with non-neurological injuries. For patients with neurological injuries, 25% could reach their mouth or back pocket, while 76% of patients with non-neurological injuries could reach their mouth and 53% could reach their back pocket. Patients with an arthrodesis position of less than 25° experienced better outcomes including better shoulder flexion, shoulder abduction and ability to reach their mouth, as well as less postoperative pain. – by Laura Kincaid and Monica Jaramillo



Disclosure: Wagner reports no relevant financial discourses.