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Treatment of Painful Pseudoparesis Due to Irreparable Rotator Cuff Dysfunction with the Delta III Reverse-Ball-and-Socket Total Shoulder Prosthesis

Werner, C.M.L. MD; Steinmann, P.A. MD; Gilbart, M. MD; Gerber, C. MD

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: July 2005 - Volume 87 - Issue 7 - p 1476–1486
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.D.02342
Scientific Articles

Background: The Delta III reverse-ball-and-socket total shoulder implant is designed to restore overhead shoulder function in the presence of irreparable rotator cuff deficiency by using the intact deltoid muscle and the stability provided by the prosthetic design. Our purpose was to evaluate the clinical and radiographic results of this arthroplasty in a consecutive series of shoulders with painful pseudoparesis due to irreversible loss of rotator cuff function.

Methods: Fifty-eight consecutive patients with moderate-to-severe shoulder pain and active anterior elevation of <90° due to an irreparable rotator cuff tear were treated with a Delta III total shoulder replacement at an average age of sixty-eight years. Seventeen of the procedures were the primary treatment for the shoulder, and forty-one were revisions. The patients were examined clinically and radiographically after an average duration of follow-up of thirty-eight months.

Results: On the average, the subjective shoulder value increased from 18% preoperatively to 56% postoperatively (p < 0.0001); the relative Constant score, from 29% to 64% (p < 0.0001); the Constant score for pain, from 5.2 to 10.5 points (p < 0.0001); active anterior elevation, from 42° to 100° (p < 0.0001); and active abduction, from 43° to 90° (p < 0.0001). The patients for whom the implantation of the Delta III prosthesis was the primary procedure and those who had had previous surgery showed similar amounts of improvement. The total complication rate, including all minor complications, was 50%, and the reoperation rate was 33%. Of the seventeen primary operations, 47% (eight) were associated with a complication and 18% (three) were followed by a reoperation. Of the forty-one revisions, 51% (twenty-one) were associated with a complication and 39% (sixteen) were followed by a reoperation. Subjective results and satisfaction rates were not influenced by complications or reoperations when the prosthesis had been retained.

Conclusions: Total shoulder arthroplasty with the Delta III prosthesis is a salvage procedure for severe shoulder dysfunction caused by an irreparable rotator cuff tear associated with other glenohumeral lesions. Complications were frequent following both primary and revision procedures, but they rarely affected the final outcome. The procedure has a substantial potential to improve the condition of patients with severe shoulder dysfunction, at least in the short term.

Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

1 Department of Orthopaedics, University of Zürich, Balgrist, Forchstrasse 340, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland. E-mail address for C. Gerber:

Copyright 2005 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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