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 preemninently suitable for shared treatment decision-making.”
OrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Grigory Gershkovich, MD.
Shoulder arthroplasty continues to grow in popularity, and as the number of shoulder arthroplasties rises, so will the number of revisions. Infection is one major reason for shoulder arthroplasty failure, and Propionibacterium has been increasingly recognized as a major culprit.
However, Propionibacterium infection is difficult to diagnose. Despite improved detection techniques, diagnosis at the time of revision remains elusive because obvious signs of acute infection are often absent. The need to perform explantation in the setting of clinically apparent periprosthetic infection is obvious, but the appropriateness of single-stage revision with antibiotic treatment in shoulders with only apparent mechanical failures remains questionable.
Hsu et al. attempted to address this question in a study published in the December 21, 2016 issue of JBJS. The group retrospectively reviewed the outcomes of 55 shoulders that underwent revision arthroplasty due to continued pain, stiffness, or component loosening without obvious clinical infection. Mean follow up was 48 months. At least five cultures were obtained intraoperatively during each revision, and each case was treated with antibiotics as if were truly infected until the final culture results were received after three weeks. Shoulders were revised to either hemi-arthroplasty, total shoulder arthroplasty, or reverse total shoulder arthroplasty.
Hsu et al. analyzed outcomes according to two groups: the positive cohort (n=27), where shoulders had ≥ 2 cultures positive for Propionibacterium, and the control cohort (n=28), where shoulders had either 0 or 1 positive culture. The two groups were compared by before- and after-revision performance on the simple shoulder test (SST) and pain outcome scores.
Both groups improved postoperatively based on these patient-reported outcome measures, and no significant difference was found between the two groups. Three patients in each group required a return to the OR. Gastrointestinal side effects were the most commonly reported complication from prolonged antibiotic administration.
This study design was limited by its retrospective nature and the lack of a two-stage revision treatment comparison group. Furthermore, this study included only patients with no signs of clinical infection, and the findings may not be applicable to patients with perioperative signs of infection. The study also incorporated three revision surgery implant options, which could have influenced postoperative SST and pain scores. Larger, multicenter controlled trials will be needed to produce a more definitive answer to this complicated question.
Still, there are clear benefits of single-stage revision over two-stage revision, especially with regard to operative time, anesthesia risks, and patient recovery. Given the wide antibiotic sensitivity profile of Propionibacterium and these initial results from Hsu et al., single-stage revision with appropriate antibiotic therapy may be suitable for patients undergoing revision shoulder arthroplasty in the setting of suspected Propionibacterium infection.
Grigory Gershkovich, MD is chief resident at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. He will complete a hand fellowship at the University of Chicago in 2017-2018.
The exact mechanism by which osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) lesions develop is poorly understood. This month’s “Case Connections” spotlights 3 case reports of OCD in young baseball players, 2 of whom developed the condition in the shoulder. A fourth case report details 3 presentations of bilateral OCD of the femoral head that occurred in the same family over 3 generations.
The springboard case report, from the December 28, 2016, edition of JBJS Case Connector, describes a 16-year-old Major League Baseball (MLB) pitching prospect in whom an OCD lesion of the shoulder healed radiographically and clinically after 8 months of non-throwing and physical therapy focused on improving range of motion and throwing mechanics. Three additional JBJS Case Connector case reports summarized in the article focus on:
- Shoulder OCD in a teenage baseball player that was treated arthroscopically
- Early elbow OCD in young throwers
- Three cases of bilateral femoral head OCD that occurred in multiple members of the same family
Among the take-home points emphasized in this Case Connections article:
- MRI arthrograms are the best imaging modality to determine the stability of most OCD lesions. Radiographs in such cases often appear normal.
- Early-stage OCD has the potential to heal spontaneously. Activity modification and physical therapy are effective treatments.
- There is not a “gold-standard” surgical intervention for treating unstable/late-stage OCD. Surgery frequently provides clinical benefits but often does not result in radiographic improvement.
This month’s Image Quiz from the JBJS Journal of Orthopaedics for Physician Assistants (JOPA) presents the case of a 64-year-old woman who fell out of bed while sleeping and landed directly on the lateral aspect of the right shoulder. Based on the image shown here and a Zanca view radiograph, she was diagnosed in the emergency room with a lateral clavicle fracture. After staying in a sling for about two weeks, the patient continued to have shoulder pain when using the arm with overhead activities and when sleeping on the shoulder at night.
Select from among four choices as the next best step in treatment: MRI to evaluate the coracoclavicular ligaments, open reduction/internal fixation, continued sling treatment until pain resolves, or transacromial wire fixation.
In a retrospective case-cohort analysis of 364 shoulders that had primary repair of recurrent anterior instability, Zimmermann et al. conclude in the December 7, 2016 issue of JBJS that arthroscopic Bankart repairs were inferior to the open Latarjet procedure, at a mean follow-up of 10 years.
Specific 10-year outcome comparisons included:
- Redislocations in 13% of the Bankart shoulders vs 1% of the Latarjet shoulders
- Apprehension (fear of the shoulder dislocating with the arm in abduction and external rotation) in 29% of the Bankart patients vs 9% of the Latarjet patients
- Cumulative revision rate for recurrent instability of 21% in the Bankart group vs 1% in the Latarjet group
- Not-satisfied rating from 13.2% of patients in the Bankart group vs 3.2% in the Latarjet group
Overall, there were few early and almost no late failures after the Latarjet procedure, while the arthroscopic Bankart repair was associated with an increasing failure rate over time. The authors say that this study’s longer-term analysis confirms “the contention that arthroscopic Bankart reconstructions fail progressively” and supports “the observation that restoration of stability with the Latarjet procedure is stable over time.”
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, MSc, a co-author of the October 19, 2016 Specialty Update on Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, selected the five most clinically compelling findings from among the more than 40 studies summarized in the Specialty Update.
Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty
Optimizing reverse shoulder arthroplasty implant design continues to be a research focus. There is significant variation among different implants with regard to the amount of lateralization of the center of rotation, and how lateralization affects clinical outcomes is of particular interest. Authors randomized patients to undergo reverse shoulder arthroplasty with a center of rotation at the native glenoid face or with lateralization.1 Postoperative functional results at a mean follow-up of 22 months were similar between groups overall. However, when the analysis excluded patients with teres minor muscle degeneration, patients with a more lateralized center of rotation had a greater improvement in external rotation. This may portend a benefit of lateralization in the setting of an intact posterior rotator cuff.
Rotator Cuff Tear Natural History
A Level-I prospective cohort study of patients with asymptomatic rotator cuff tears evaluated patterns of tear progression over time.2 Of specific interest was whether the integrity of the anterior supraspinatus cable influenced tear size and/or risk for tear enlargement. Cable-disrupted tears were 9 mm larger at baseline, but cable integrity did not influence risk for tear enlargement or time to enlargement. This understanding may help inform patient discussions about the risks of nonoperative management of rotator cuff tears.
Rotator Cuff Repair
Do patients with symptomatic degenerative rotator cuff tears fare better with surgery or nonoperative management? Only three prospective randomized trials have been published comparing outcomes after randomizing patients to nonoperative management or surgical repair. This Level-I trial randomized patients (mean age of 61) with degenerative full thickness cuff tears to either a course of non-operative management (corticosteroid injection, physical therapy, and oral analgesics) or surgical rotator cuff repair. 3 Patients who underwent surgery experienced a greater reduction in VAS pain and VAS disability scores compared with the nonoperative cohort at 1 year of follow-up.
In another prospective randomized study, authors randomized patients who were ≥55 years of age with painful degenerative supraspinatus tears into one of three treatments: 1) physical therapy alone, 2) acromioplasty and physical therapy, and 3) rotator cuff repair, acromioplasty, and physical therapy. Patients in this study were older than those in the study mentioned above, with a mean age of 65 (range 55 to 81). At the 2-year follow-up, no significant differences among the three interventions were seen in the Constant score, VAS pain score, or patient satisfaction. This data supports initial conservative treatment in older patients with degenerative atraumatic cuff tears. However, the importance of tear progression over time and the age threshold that separates “older” patients from “younger” patients remain to be determined.
Can we improve the biologic healing environment for rotator cuff repair healing? A Level-I prospective randomized controlled study evaluated leukocyte and platelet-rich fibrin in rotator cuff repairs.4 Patients underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair with and without leukocyte and platelet-rich fibrin applied to the repair site. No beneficial effect of leukocyte and platelet-rich fibrin was found in overall clinical outcome, healing rate, postoperative defect size, and tendon quality at the 1-year follow-up. A reliable biological augmentation solution for rotator cuff healing remains elusive.
1 Greiner S, Schmidt C, Herrmann S, Pauly S, Perka C. Clinical performance of lateralized versus non-lateralized reverse shoulder arthroplasty: a prospective randomized study. J. Shoulder Elbow Surg. [Internet]. 2015;24(9):1397–404. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1058274615002864doi:10.1016/j.jse.2015.05.041
2 Keener JD, Hsu JE, Steger-May K, Teefey SA, Chamberlain AM, Yamaguchi K. Patterns of tear progression for asymptomatic degenerative rotator cuff tears. J. Shoulder Elbow Surg. [Internet]. 2015 Dec 1;24(12):1845–1851. Available from: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1058274615004759
3 Lambers Heerspink FO, van Raay JJAM, Koorevaar RCT, van Eerden PJM, Westerbeek RE, van ’t Riet E, et al. Comparing surgical repair with conservative treatment for degenerative rotator cuff tears: a randomized controlled trial. J. Shoulder Elbow Surg. [Internet]. 2015;24(8):1274–81. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1058274615002852doi:10.1016/j.jse.2015.05.040
4 Zumstein MA, Rumian A, Thélu CÉ, Lesbats V, O’Shea K, Schaer M, et al. SECEC Research Grant 2008 II: Use of platelet- and leucocyte-rich fibrin (L-PRF) does not affect late rotator cuff tendon healing: a prospective randomized controlled study. J. Shoulder Elbow Surg. [Internet]. 2016 Jan 1;25(1):2–11. Available from: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1058274615005388
How best to treat clavicle fractures remains a controversial question in orthopaedics. A study by Huttunen et al. in the November 2, 2016 JBJS does not resolve that controversy, but it sheds a little light on it.
The authors analyzed a validated Swedish hospital-discharge registry and determined that 44,609 clavicle fractures occurred in that country between 2001 and 2012. During that period, the incidence of clavicle fractures increased by 67%, from 35.6 to 59.3 per 100,000 person-years. During that same time, the rate of surgically treated clavicle fractures increased by 705%, from 2.5% of all clavicle fractures in 2001 to 12.1% in 2012. Surgical treatment was more common in men and in younger age groups. Nevertheless, nearly 90% of clavicle fractures were treated nonsurgically in 2012.
Huttunen et al. remain ambivalent in the discussion section of their study, saying that these and other recent findings “may support surgical treatment of young, active patients who need to return to their previous level of activity in the shortest possible time,” while noting that “high-quality evidence that surgery produces superior long-term results compared with nonoperative treatment remains lacking.”
Propionibacterium acnes is a frequently isolated pathogen in postoperative shoulder infections, but where exactly does it come from? According to a study by Falconer et al. in the October 19, 2016 Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, P. acnes derives from the subdermal edges of the surgical incision and spreads through contact with the surgeon’s gloves and surgical instruments.
The authors obtained specimens for microbiological analysis at five different sites from 40 patients undergoing primary shoulder arthroplasty. Thirty-three percent of the patients had at least one culture specimen positive for P. acnes, and the most common site of P. acnes growth was the subdermal layer, followed by forceps.
The authors observed no clinical postoperative infections during the follow-up of 6 to 18 months, although that is a relatively short investigation period for a pathogen that often causes late-onset indolent infections. The authors conclude that “it is likely that surgeon handling of the skin and subdermal layer contaminates the rest of the surgical field.” Although the study did not investigate preventive techniques, based on the findings the authors suggest the following possible prophylactic approaches:
- Minimizing handling of the subdermal layer
- Changing gloves after the dermis is cut
- Avoiding contact between implants and the subdermal layer
- Repeating use of antibacterial agents once the wound is opened
A substantial number of patients, old and young, who sustain a proximal humeral fracture are managed with Kirschner wires (K-wires). Surgeons are especially likely to opt for wires over other forms of fixation when they need to protect the repair of a concomitant neurovascular injury, or in cases in which the patient cannot tolerate a more invasive surgery.
However, there is a somewhat frequent and potentially lethal drawback to using wires about the shoulder girdle. This latest JBJS Case Connector “Watch” looks at several cases in which wires were adequately placed in the shoulder but subsequently moved to other parts of the body. It also identifies apparent risk factors for wire migration and provides some guidance for minimizing that risk. Finally, it encourages orthopaedists to seriously consider alternate fixation options, whenever feasible, to eliminate the risk of wire migration altogether.