Postarthroscopic humeral head osteonecrosis treated with reverse total shoulder arthroplasty

Matthew Dilisio, Jeffrey S. Noble, Robert H. Bell, Curtis R. Noel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Although postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis has become a well-known disastrous complication of arthroscopic shoulder surgery, little is known about postarthroscopic humeral head osteonecrosis. This article describes 3 patients who were referred to the authors' practice with end-stage osteonecrosis after an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair or debridement. Three patients (average age, 63.3 years) presented to the authors' practice reporting severe shoulder pain after a rotator cuff debridement or repair was performed at an outside facility. After an interval period of mild improvement, all patients experienced progressive pain and loss of shoulder range of motion at a mean of 4.8 months postoperatively. Plain radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging obtained prior to the index operation showed no evidence of osteonecrosis. Postoperatively, progressive clinical and radiographic evidence showed humeral head osteonecrosis and subsequent glenohumeral destruction with cuff tear arthropathy. The authors managed all patients with a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty due to severe glenohumeral arthrosis and massive rotator cuff tears not amendable to repair. Satisfactory results were achieved in all cases. Although many complications of arthroscopic shoulder surgery are documented, little is known about postarthroscopic humeral head osteonecrosis. Shoulder surgeons should be aware of this potential complication when performing arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery and when evaluating painful and stiff postarthroscopic shoulders.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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