Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.
This month, Aaron Chamberlain, MD, co-author of the October 18, 2017 Specialty Update on shoulder and elbow surgery, selected the most clinically compelling findings from among the 36 studies summarized in the Specialty Update.
Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty
With reverse shoulder arthroplasty, surgeons often have difficulty setting expectations for patients due to the lack of long-term outcomes data. Bacle et al. published a study that describes the clinical outcomes in patients with at least 10 years’ follow-up. Medium-term outcomes among an original cohort of 186 patients had been previously described. Eighty-four of those original patients were available for a mean long-term follow-up of 150 months. The mean overall Constant score fell from 63 at medium-term follow-up to 55 at final follow-up. Active anterior elevation also decreased from 138° to 131.° Despite the decrease in Constant score and ROM between mid- and long-term follow-up, these two measures remained significantly better than preoperative values. Analysis showed a 93% implant survival probability at 120 months. This study will help surgeons counsel patients regarding long-term expectations after reverse shoulder arthroplasty – especially as younger patients are increasingly indicated for this procedure.
Rotator Cuff Repair
A central focus of studies evaluating rotator cuff repair has been to better understand the biological environment that influences tendon healing. Greater understanding of the genetic influence in rotator cuff pathology may lead to interventions that could improve the healing environment. Tashjian et al. reported outcomes after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair in 72 patients who were assessed for family history of rotator cuff tears and underwent a genetic analysis looking for variants in the estrogen-related receptor beta (ESRRB) gene.1 Positive family history and tear retraction were associated with a failure of healing, and lateral tendon retears were associated with both family history and the presence of a single nucleotide polymorphism in the ESRRB gene.
In another recent study focused on the biological healing environment after rotator cuff repair, a prospective randomized trial of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in patients undergoing repair of a medium to large-sized rotator cuff tear2 found that patients who received PRP experienced an increase in vascularity at the repair site up to 3 months postoperatively. The PRP group also demonstrated better Constant-Murley and UCLA scores and lower retear rates than the no-PRP group, but there was no difference in ASES scores. In another recent randomized trial, 120 patients were randomized to either PRP or ropivacaine injection after rotator cuff repair.3 No between-group differences in clinical outcome scores or retear rates were identified. The contrasting results of these two recent randomized studies illustrate the challenge of identifying any conclusive benefit of PRP in the setting of rotator cuff repair.
Prosthetic Shoulder Infection
Accurate diagnosis of prosthetic shoulder infection continues to present a formidable challenge, given the difficulty of detecting Proprionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) and interpreting when positive results are clinically significant. Development of P. acnes tests that are more rapid and precise in identifying clinically significant infections would be of significant value. Holmes et al. evaluated a PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) technique to identify P. acnes from infected tissue in the shoulder.4 In this study, within 24 hours of sampling, the PCR-RFLP assay detected P. acnes-specific amplicons in as few as 10 bacterial cells.
Approaches to managing clavicle fractures have evolved significantly over the past several decades. While it was once generally accepted that middle third clavicle fractures should be managed nonoperatively, multiple studies have described concerning rates of nonunions and symptomatic malunions. A multicenter prospective trial that randomized patients to either surgical fixation with a plate or nonoperative management identified a nonunion rate of 23.1% in the nonoperatively managed group, compared with a 2.4% nonunion rate in the surgically treated group (p<0.0001). However, the rate of secondary operations was 27.4% in the operatively treated group (most for plate removal) versus 17.1% in the nonoperative group, although that difference did not reach statistical significance (p=0.18). These results will help inform discussions between providers and patients when considering management options for midshaft clavicle fractures.
- Tashjian RZ, Granger EK, Zhang Y, Teerlink CC, Cannon-Albright LA. Identification of a genetic variant associated with rotator cuff repair healing. J Shoulder Elb Surg. 2016. doi:10.1016/j.jse.2016.02.019.
- Pandey V, Bandi A, Madi S, et al. Does application of moderately concentrated platelet-rich plasma improve clinical and structural outcome after arthroscopic repair of medium-sized to large rotator cuff tear? A randomized controlled trial. J Shoulder Elb Surg. 2016;26(3):e82-e83. doi:10.1016/j.jse.2016.01.036.
- Flury M, Rickenbacher D, Schwyzer H-K, et al. Does Pure Platelet-Rich Plasma Affect Postoperative Clinical Outcomes After Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair? Am J Sports Med. 2016. doi:10.1177/0363546516645518.
- Holmes S, Pena Diaz AM, Athwal GS, Faber KJ, O’Gorman DB. Neer Award 2017: A rapid method for detecting Propionibacterium acnes in surgical biopsy specimens from the shoulder. J Shoulder Elb Surg. 2017. doi:10.1016/j.jse.2016.10.001.