OrthoBuzz regularly brings you a current commentary on a “classic” article from The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. These articles have been selected by the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editors of The Journal because of their long-standing significance to the orthopaedic community and the many citations they receive in the literature. Our OrthoBuzz commentators highlight the impact that these JBJS articles have had on the practice of orthopaedics. Please feel free to join the conversation by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button in the box to the left.
Charles Neer II , a true pioneer in shoulder surgery, coined the term “cuff-tear arthropathy” in 1977. In a landmark 1983 JBJS publication, Dr. Neer, with coauthors Craig and Fukuda (both of whom became internationally recognized experts in shoulder surgery), reported on the pathophysiology and treatment of this previously little-recognized condition that was associated with long-standing massive rotator cuff tears.
Neer’s early work with total shoulder arthroplasty, also reported in JBJS, included a small cohort of patients with cuff-tear arthropathy. In the 1983 article on cuff-tear arthropathy, Neer and his coauthors described the pathologic presentation and treatment with total shoulder arthroplasty, along with a proposed pathophysiologic mechanism. They noted that, although it was a difficult procedure, their preferred treatment was “total shoulder replacement with rotator cuff reconstruction and special rehabilitation.”
Between 1975 and 1983, they surgically treated only 26 patients. Others later recognized that total shoulder replacement was associated with early glenoid failure and recommended treatment with humeral hemiarthroplasty.1 With either approach, success was limited by rotator cuff deficiency and dysfunction. The results were variable, with a small proportion having good outcomes and others achieving some pain relief and limited functional improvement.
Although it was not the first attempt at a reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA), Grammont developed an innovative design with improved implant technology and biomechanics to treat massive rotator cuff tears.2 This solved the biomechanical problem that resulted from a deficient rotator cuff and forever revolutionized the care of cuff-deficient shoulders. The Delta 3 prosthesis became available in Europe in the early 1990s but was not widely available in the US until 2004, when it was approved by the FDA.
Initially developed, approved, and used exclusively for cuff-tear arthropathy, early clinical success led to utilization for other conditions with deficient or dysfunctional rotator cuffs, including pseudoparalysis, revision shoulder arthroplasty, acute proximal humerus fractures, fracture sequelae, and chronic glenohumeral dislocations. The results have been so good that the indications have expanded beyond the initial recommendations for use only in elderly low-demand patients. Initial concerns were mollified by the apparent longevity and reported survivorship. Subsequently, there has been such a huge increase in utilization that RSA is approaching 50 percent of the US market share and some of the international market. The implications of expanded indications and increased utilization are yet to be seen.
In 1983, Neer and coauthors reported on what was then a relatively uncommon degenerative condition of the shoulder. Today, rotator cuff-deficient shoulders are much more common and can be better treated due to advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology and biomechanics of the condition, as well as advances in shoulder arthroplasty technology.
Andrew Green, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor
1. Franklin JL, Barrett WP, Jackins SE, Matsen FA 3rd. Glenoid loosening in total shoulder
arthroplasty. Association with rotator cuff deficiency. J Arthroplasty. 1988;3(1):39-46.
2. Grammont PM, Baulot E. Delta shoulder prosthesis for rotator cuff rupture. Orthopedics. 1993 Jan;16(1):65-8
The debate continues as to whether midshaft clavicular fractures are optimally treated surgically or nonoperatively. More data about this clinical dilemma is delivered in the January 18, 2017 issue of JBJS, where Woltz et al. report findings from a multicenter controlled trial that randomized 160 clavicular-fracture patients to receive ORIF with a plate or nonoperative treatment with a sling and physical therapy.
The rate of radiographic nonunion was significantly higher in the nonoperatively treated group after 1 year, but no difference was found between the groups with respect to Constant and DASH scores at any time point—6 weeks, three months, and 1 year. Pain scores and general physical health were marginally better after operative treatment, but only at 6 weeks. However, the rate of second operations for adverse events in the ORIF group was considerable, and after 1 year, implant removal was performed in or scheduled for 16.7% of the operatively treated patients.
Based on these findings and other recent data, the authors “do not advocate routine operative treatment for displaced midshaft clavicular fractures,” although they say early plate fixation may offer advantages for patients who have high demands, high pain scores, or a strong preference for surgery. Based on the fact that “neither treatment option is clearly superior for all patients,” the authors conclude that “the clavicular fracture is preeminently suitable for shared treatment decision-making.”
I may never go to the gym again!
In the January 2017 issue of JBJS Reviews, Mitchell et al. report on sport-related skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) as an ongoing problem across a diverse range of recreational, collegiate, and professional athletes. They note that these infections often occur during training for competitive sports or during the competition and that the majority are bacterial or fungal in origin. The review describes the mechanisms by which SSTIs occur in healthy athletes and the prevalence among players in various sports, including the effect of player position. The authors discuss the mechanisms by which SSTIs are spread and the hygiene measures that are recommended to prevent their spread. They extrapolate these lessons to the general population of so-called weekend warriors or fitness enthusiasts. This is what worries people like me, as studies have shown that these infections easily occur during regular visits to fitness centers and gymnasiums, which are sources of large quantities of bacteria that could cause SSTIs!
Studies have shown that billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes inhabit the skin and that the types of organisms vary between individuals and between different sites of the skin. In fact, they may vary in relation to each region of the body. Indeed, factors such as skin characteristics, sebaceous gland concentration, moisture content, temperature, and genetics as well as exogenous environmental factors can influence each so-called community of organisms. The authors hypothesize that sports in which participants have substantial skin-to-skin collisions might disrupt these ecosystems on the skin and allow microbes to be shared among players, noting that contact athletes have been shown to be potential carriers of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) more than twice as frequently as athletes who participate in noncontact sports. Other mechanisms by which SSTIs occur in healthy athletes include maceration of the skin due to sweating as well as strenuous training. Of particular interest is the observation that extended periods of intense exercise may temporarily depress certain aspects of the immune system, including natural killer cells, neutrophils, lymphocytes, immunoglobulin levels, and interleukin-2 levels and thus facilitate and promote infection and its potential host transfer.
The article goes on to explain how SSTIs are spread, the prevalence of SSTIs among players in various sports, the importance of personal and environmental hygiene, and specific forms of treatment of SSTIs in athletes.
When you do go to the gym or fitness center, just remember to clean off any equipment both before and after use and to change out of your workout clothes and shower as soon as possible after the workout. Be sure to cover benches with a towel, and if you practice yoga, bring your own mat.
I definitely will continue to use the gym but will pay more attention to the issues raised in this review.
Thomas A. Einhorn, MD
Editor, JBJS Reviews
This month’s Image Quiz from the JBJS Journal of Orthopaedics for Physician Assistants (JOPA) presents the case of a 55-year-old woman with neck pain and upper-extremity weakness after a motor vehicle accident that occurred 1 week prior, during which she sustained a whiplash injury. She notes severe bilateral arm weakness, “clumsy hands,” and mild lower-extremity weakness with walking. The bilateral upper-extremity muscle groups have a strength of 3 of 5, and the lower-extremity muscle groups have a strength of 5 of 5. Sensation remains intact throughout the upper and lower extremities.
Select from among four choices as the most likely diagnosis:
- Central cord syndrome
- Brown-Séquard syndrome
- Anterior cord syndrome
- Posterior cord syndrome
The Ponseti method is a proven treatment for idiopathic clubfoot, yielding excellent outcomes with minimal pain or disability. However, as many as 40% of patients fail to respond to initial treatment or develop recurrent deformities.
On Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 8:00 PM EST, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery hosted a webinar that delved into two recent JBJS studies investigating how to predict which patients are most likely to get subpar results from the Ponseti method, and how best to manage clubfoot relapses if they occur.
- Matthew Dobbs, MD, describes in detail various soft-tissue abnormalities present in patients with treatment-resistant clubfoot that are not present in treatment-responsive patients. These parameters could be used to predict which clubfoot patients are at greater risk of relapse.
- Jose Morcuende, MD, will spotlight findings from a study that followed treated clubfoot patients for 50 years to determine whether relapses managed with repeat casting and tibialis tendon transfer during early childhood prevented future relapses.
This webinar was moderated by James Kasser, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Boston Children’s hospital and a member of the JBJS Board of Trustees. The webinar offered additional perspectives on the authors’ presentations from two clubfoot-management experts—Steven Frick, MD and Gregory Mencio, MD. The last 15 minutes was devoted to a live Q&A session, during which the audience asked questions of all four panelists.
Register now to watch the webinar on-demand!
In the January 18, 2017 issue of JBJS, Krych et al. report on early and mid-term results of the two most common surgical procedures to help patients 55 years old and younger with varus knees and medial compartment osteoarthritis: unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) and proximal tibial osteotomy (PTO). PTO realigns the knee’s biomechanics by moving the weight-bearing line laterally toward the more normal side of the knee. UKA corrects the biomechanical issue and removes and resurfaces damaged tissue.
In this comparative cohort study of 240 patients between 18 and 55 years old, patients receiving UKA had better functional scores and reached a higher activity level early after surgery. UKA survivorship (defined as avoiding revision to total knee arthroplasty [TKA]) was 94% at an average of 5.8 years, while PTO survivorship was 77% at an average of 7.2 years.
The functional outcomes should come as no surprise, seeing as arthroplasty replaces/denervates the subchondral bone in the medial compartment, while also correcting the alignment issue. A reasonable trauma-related analog to this can be seen with total hip arthroplasty providing generally better functional outcomes for displaced femoral neck fractures than internal fixation because the latter approach does not anatomically restore hip biomechanics. In both those cases, the mechanics of a weight-bearing joint are maintained/improved without relying on bone to heal. In contrast, with PTO and other bone and joint “preservation” approaches, the natural mechanics are altered.
However, I do not think we should extend this argument beyond what these data from Krych et al. provide. The mean length of follow-up in the UKA group was only 5.8 years. We need 20- to 30-year results in that group so we can truly understand the risk of further arthroplasty revision, polyethylene replacement, periprosthetic fracture, etc. I therefore truly hope to see follow-up reporting in a decade on this cohort of patients.
We must also recognize that these patients were selected for a surgical intervention based on their functional demand. The baseline characteristics of both groups suggest that those who had higher loading “habits” received an osteotomy.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
Single-anesthetic bilateral total hip arthroplasty (THA) has had a historically high perioperative complication profile. However, a matched cohort study by Houdek et al. in the January 4, 2017 edition of JBJS comparing single-anesthetic versus staged bilateral THA over four years found no significant differences between the two procedures in terms of:
- Risks of revision, reoperation, or complications (including DVT/PE, dislocation, periprosthetic fracture, and infection; see graph, where blue line represents single-anesthetic and red line indicates staged)
- Perioperative mortality
- Discharge to home versus rehab
The single-anesthetic group (94 patients, 188 hips) experienced shorter total operating room time and hospital length of stay than the matched cohort, and consequently the single-anesthetic approach lowered the relative total cost of care by 27%.
While the Mayo Clinic authors concede the potential for selection bias in this study (e.g., there was no standardized protocol for determining eligibility for inclusion in either group), they say that they currently consider single-anesthetic bilateral THA for patients with bilateral coxarthrosis who are <70 years of age, relatively healthy, and/or have bilateral hip contractures that would make rehabilitation difficult.
OrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Leon S. Benson, MD.
Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) are suggested treatment algorithms for a variety of common orthopaedic conditions, published by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
These algorithms follow logically from the AAOS’s earlier work in publishing Clinical Practice Guidelines, and the methodology behind development of Appropriate Use Criteria is available in great detail on the AAOS website.
It is clear that the recent creation of Appropriate Use Criteria for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), like the other AUC algorithms, was very thoughtful and included the input of numerous experts. It is also clear that these criteria reflect an enormous amount of time and energy on the part of the AUC workgroup in attempting to reflect the best available evidence in managing carpal tunnel syndrome, while also allowing reasonable latitude in judgment on the part of the treating clinician.
The CTS AUC, like all AAOS AUC, are available as a downloadable application for virtually any computer or mobile platform. Using the AUC app is simple. The clinician selects items that correspond to elements of the patient’s history, physical examination, and testing/imaging findings, and then the AUC app categorizes various treatment (and/or workup) options as “appropriate,” “may be appropriate,” or “rarely appropriate.”
However, a few quirks of the CTS AUC may annoy some experienced clinicians. For example, in grading the patient’s history, the app requires that the clinician use either the Katz Hand Symptom Diagram or the CTS-6 history survey. I doubt that most seasoned hand surgeons routinely use these history tools unless their patient is enrolled in a research study. Additionally, the CTS-6 history survey lists “nocturnal numbness” as a choice; carpal tunnel patients typically report nocturnal pain that awakens them from sleep, not numbness (which is usually noticed upon awakening in the morning). In fact, nocturnal pain is probably the most reliable historical detail in confirming carpal tunnel syndrome. The CTS-6 criteria also give considerable weight to the presence of a positive Phalen’s test and Tinel’s sign even though these findings are commonly present in patients who have no pathology. The absence of these physical findings in patients who are suspected of carpal tunnel syndrome is probably more meaningful.
For the most part, though, the CTS AUC get a lot right about currently accepted treatment pathways for carpal tunnel syndrome. Playing around with the app, I was unable to create a combination of history, physical findings, and test data that produced treatment options with which I couldn’t agree. Furthermore, the AUC permit enough latitude in treatment recommendations to encompass the personal preferences of the vast majority of hand surgeons.
But perhaps the most compelling question is — why do we need an AUC app in the first place? Doctors crave autonomy for many reasons, not the least of which are the extreme time commitment and intellectual demands of medical training, including residency and fellowship. Furthermore, orthopaedic judgment is refined through years of practical experience accrued over the course of a career. How can that be simulated with a simplified decision tree that boils everything down to a handful of categories? And few fellowship-trained hand surgeons will immediately like the idea of an amorphous body of “experts” coming up with an iPhone app to tell them how to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.
However, there is another, critically important theme to the AUC story. Our colleagues who contribute their expertise to the AAOS AUC projects are actually providing a huge service to orthopaedic patients nationwide. As health-care delivery in the United States evolves, third-party payors and policy decision-makers are demanding that treatments be evidence based and consistent with expert consensus of “best practices.” If doctors themselves do not weigh in on this topic, stakeholders who are neither patients nor providers will make up the rules. Most certainly, that would be less optimal for patients than physician experts helping craft treatment parameters, even if the parameters so created are not perfect or applicable to every imaginable clinical scenario.
With this perspective in mind, the CTS AUC have achieved reasonable goals, and they support most of the commonly recommended treatment approaches to managing carpal tunnel syndrome. More importantly, the AUC-development process allows the community of orthopaedic specialists to have a seat at the table when value-based medicine is demanded, as it should be, by both our patients and policy-makers.
Although my pride might be a little bruised when I imagine practicing medicine by checking off boxes on a mobile app, I can handle it if it strengthens the identity of orthopaedic surgeons as leaders in doing what’s best for our patients.
Leon S. Benson, MD is chief of the Division of Hand Surgery at NorthShore University Healthsystem, professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and a hand surgeon at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. He is also a JBJS associate editor.
Given the prevalence of opioid prescriptions, many patients present for total knee arthroplasty (TKA) having been on long-term opioid therapy. In the January 4, 2017 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Ben-Ari et al. determined that patients taking opiate medications for more than three months prior to their TKA were significantly more likely than non-users of opioids to undergo revision surgery within a year after the index procedure.
Among the more than 32,000 TKA patients from Veterans Affairs (VA) databases included in the study, nearly 40% were long-term opioid users prior to surgery. Despite that high percentage, the authors found that chronic kidney disease was the leading risk factor for knee revision among the relevant variables they examined. And even though the authors used a sophisticated natural language/machine-learning tool to analyze postoperative notes, they found no association between long-term opioid use and the etiology of the revisions.
In a commentary accompanying the study, Michael Reich, MD and Richard Walker, MD, note that the study’s very specific VA demographic (94% male) may hamper the generalizability of the findings, especially because most TKAs are currently performed in women. Nevertheless, the commentators conclude that:
- “The study illuminates the value in limiting opioid use during the nonoperative treatment of patients with knee arthritis.”
- “Patients who are taking opioids when they present for TKA could reasonably be encouraged to decrease opioid use during preoperative preparation.”
- “Preoperative use of opioids should be considered among modifiable risk factors and comorbidities when deciding whether to perform TKA.”
In the January 4, 2017 issue of The Journal, Swart et al. provide a well-done Markov decision analysis on the cost effectiveness of three treatment options for femoral neck fractures in patients between the age of 40 and 65: open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF), total hip arthroplasty (THA), and hemiarthroplasty. Plugging the best data available from the current orthopaedic literature into their model, the authors estimated the threshold age above which THA would be the superior strategy in this relatively young population.
For patients in this age group, traditional thinking has been to perform ORIF in order to “save” the patient’s native hip and avoid the likelihood of later revision arthroplasty. However, in this analysis THA emerges as a cost-effective option in otherwise healthy patients >54 years old, in patients >47 years old with mild comorbidity, and in patients >44 years old with multiple comorbidities.
On average, both THA and ORIF have similar outcomes across the age range analyzed. But ORIF with successful fracture healing yields slightly better outcomes and considerably lower costs than THA, whereas patients whose fracture does not heal with ORIF have notably worse outcomes than THA patients. This finding supports my personal bias that anatomical reduction and biomechanically sound fixation must be achieved in this younger population with displaced femoral neck fractures. The analysis confirmed that, because of poor functional outcomes with hemiarthroplasty in this population, hemiarthroplasty should not be considered. Poor hemiarthroplasty outcomes are likely related to the mismatch between the metal femoral head and the native acetabular cartilage, leading to fairly rapid loss of the articular cartilage and subsequent need for revision.
This analysis by Swart et al. provides very valuable data to discuss with younger patients and families when engaging in shared decision making about treating an acute femoral neck fracture. In my experience, most patients in this age group prefer to “keep” their own hip whenever possible, which puts the onus on the surgeon to gain anatomic reduction and biomechanically sound fixation with ORIF.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD