Management of irreparable rotator cuff tears and glenohumeral arthritis

Orthopedics. 2005 Apr;28(4):382-8; quiz 389-90. doi: 10.3928/0147-7447-20050401-13.


Glenohumeral arthritis with irreparable rotator cuff tears remain a difficult entity to treat. Varied causes include rotator cuff tear arthropathy, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis with irreparable cuff tear. Common symptoms are progressive pain and dysfunction. Physical examination may reveal pain, crepitance, rotator cuff weakness, and loss of motion and function. Radiographs may reveal varying degrees of osteophyte formation, sclerotic bone, superior humeral head migration, and bony erosion. Additional imaging modalities may reveal cuff tear size, retraction, atrophy, and fatty infiltration. Failure of nonoperative management may lead to operative intervention. Rotator cuff repair or reconstruction may help prevent progression of tears and future arthritic changes. In patients with moderate to severe glenohumeral arthritis and irreparable rotator cuff tears, hemiarthroplasty is currently the procedure of choice. For patients with severe cuff dysfunction or loss of coracoacromial arch, or for patients who require revision, the reverse shoulder prosthesis may offer a treatment option. Future management continues to be defined with additional study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acromion / surgery
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement
  • Arthroscopy
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology
  • Osteoarthritis / surgery*
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Rotator Cuff / physiopathology
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Shoulder Joint* / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Joint* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome