High incidence of hemiarthroplasty for shoulder osteoarthritis among recently graduated orthopaedic surgeons

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2014 Nov;472(11):3510-6. doi: 10.1007/s11999-014-3823-3. Epub 2014 Aug 22.


Background: Primary glenohumeral osteoarthritis is a common indication for shoulder arthroplasty. Historically, both total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) and hemi-shoulder arthroplasty (HSA) have been used to treat primary glenohumeral osteoarthritis. The choice between procedures is a topic of debate, with HSA proponents arguing that it is less invasive, faster, less expensive, and technically less demanding, with quality of life outcomes equivalent to those of TSA. More recent evidence suggests TSA is superior in terms of pain relief, function, ROM, strength, and patient satisfaction. We therefore investigated the practice of recently graduated orthopaedic surgeons pertaining to the surgical treatment of this disease.

Questions/purposes: We hypothesized that (1) recently graduated, board eligible, orthopaedic surgeons with fellowship training in shoulder surgery are more likely to perform TSA than surgeons without this training; (2) younger patients are more likely to receive HSA than TSA; (3) patient sex affects the choice of surgery; (4) US geographic region affects practice patterns; and (5) complication rates for HSA and TSA are not different.

Methods: We queried the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery's database to identify practice patterns of orthopaedic surgeons taking their board examination. We identified 771 patients with primary glenohumeral osteoarthritis treated with TSA or HSA from 2006 to 2011. The rates of TSA and HSA were compared based on the treating surgeon's fellowship training, patient age and sex, US geographic region, and reported surgical complications.

Results: Surgeons with fellowship training in shoulder surgery were more likely (86% versus 72%; OR 2.32; 95% CI, 1.56-3.45, p<0.001) than surgeons without this training to perform TSA rather than HSA. The mean age for patients receiving HSA was not different from that for patients receiving TSA (66 versus 68, years, p=0.057). Men were more likely to receive HSA than TSA when compared to women (RR 1.54; 95% CI, 1.19-2.00, p=0.0012). The proportions of TSA and HSA were similar regardless of US geographic region (Midwest HSA 21%, TSA 79%; Northeast HSA 25%, TSA 75%; Northwest HSA 16%, TSA 84%; South HSA 27%, TSA 73%; Southeast HSA 24%, TSA 76%; Southwest HSA 23%, TSA 77%; overall p=0.708). The overall complication rates were not different with the numbers available: 8.4% (15/179) for HSA and 8.1% (48/592) for TSA (p=0.7555).

Conclusions: The findings of this study are at odds with the recommendations in the current clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of glenohumeral osteoarthritis published by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. These guidelines favor using TSA over HSA in the treatment of shoulder arthritis. Further investigation is needed to clarify if these practice patterns are isolated to recently graduated board eligible orthopaedic surgeons or if the use of HSA continues with orthopaedic surgeons applying for recertification.

Level of evidence: Level III, therapeutic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hemiarthroplasty / psychology
  • Hemiarthroplasty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Orthopedics / education*
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis / psychology
  • Osteoarthritis / surgery*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Life
  • Sex Factors
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States