Impact of scapular notching on clinical outcomes after reverse total shoulder arthroplasty: an analysis of 476 shoulders

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2017 Jul;26(7):1253-1261. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2016.11.043. Epub 2017 Jan 19.


Background: Scapular notching is a complication unique to reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (rTSA), although its clinical implications are unclear and remains controversial.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed rTSA patients of a single implant design in 476 shoulders with a minimum 2-year clinical and radiographic follow-up. Clinical measures included active range of motion and American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores, in addition to one or more of the Constant score, Shoulder Pain and Disability Index, Simple Shoulder Test (SST), and University of California, Los Angeles Shoulder Rating Scale. Complications and rates of humeral radiolucencies were also recorded.

Results: Scapular notching was observed in 10.1% (48 of 476) of rTSAs and was associated with a longer clinical follow-up, lower body weight, lower body mass index, and when the operative side was the nondominant extremity. Patients with scapular notching had significantly lower postoperative scores on the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index, Constant, Simple Shoulder Test, and University of California, Los Angeles, Shoulder Rating Scale compared with patients without scapular notching. Patients with scapular notching also had significantly lower active abduction, significantly less strength, and trended toward significantly less active forward flexion (P = .0527). Finally, patients with scapular notching had a significantly higher complication rate and trended toward a significantly higher rate of humeral radiolucent lines (P = .0896) than patients without scapular notching.

Conclusions: This large-scale outcome study demonstrates that patients with scapular notching have significantly poorer clinical outcomes, significantly less strength and active range of motion, and a significantly higher complication rate than patients without scapular notching. Longer-term follow-up is necessary to confirm that these statistical observations in the short-term will result in greater clinically meaningful differences over time.

Keywords: Scapular notching; arthroplasty; clinical outcomes; complications; rTSA; retrospective.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Shoulder / adverse effects*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Shoulder / methods
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scapula / diagnostic imaging
  • Scapula / injuries*
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome