Background and purpose: It is difficult to evaluate glenoid component periprosthetic radiolucencies in total shoulder arthroplasties (TSAs) using plain radiographs. This study was performed to evaluate whether computed tomography (CT) using a specific patient position in the CT scanner provides a better method for assessing radiolucencies in TSA.
Methods: Following TSA, 11 patients were CT scanned in a lateral decubitus position with maximum forward flexion, which aligns the glenoid orientation with the axis of the CT scanner. Follow-up CT scanning is part of our routine patient care. Glenoid component periprosthetic lucency was assessed according to the Molé score and it was compared to routine plain radiographs by 5 observers.
Results: The protocol almost completely eliminated metal artifacts in the CT images and allowed accurate assessment of periprosthetic lucency of the glenoid fixation. Positioning of the patient within the CT scanner as described was possible for all 11 patients. A radiolucent line was identified in 54 of the 55 observed CT scans and osteolysis was identified in 25 observations. The average radiolucent line Molé score was 3.4 (SD 2.7) points with plain radiographs and 9.5 (SD 0.8) points with CT scans (p = 0.001). The mean intra-observer variance was lower in the CT scan group than in the plain radiograph group (p = 0.001).
Interpretation: The CT scan protocol we used is of clinical value in routine assessment of glenoid periprosthetic lucency after TSA. The technique improves the ability to detect and monitor radiolucent lines and, therefore, possibly implant loosening also.