Outcomes for subscapularis management techniques in shoulder arthroplasty: a systematic review

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2018 Feb;27(2):363-370. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Nov 28.


Background: This systematic review aims to synthesize published data for the most common subscapularis takedown and repair to compare outcomes in the setting of shoulder arthroplasty.

Methods: Searches of MEDLINE and Cochrane Library databases identified studies that reported clinical or radiologic outcomes for subscapularis management in the setting of shoulder arthroplasty. Comparisons included musculotendinous integrity, subscapularis testing and strength, shoulder range of motion, and functional outcome scores.

Results: The 14 included studies reported considerable variability in techniques, outcomes, and musculotendinous integrity. Lesser tuberosity osteotomy (LTO) demonstrated better healing rates (93.1%) than subscapularis peel (SP; 84.1%) and midsubstance tenotomy (ST; 75.7%), although not significantly different. A statistically significant increase in fatty infiltration was found after surgery across techniques, and range of motion and strength were similar. Mean rates of normal results for belly-press and lift-off tests were uniformly better for LTO (79.1% and 80.7%) over ST (66.7% and 65.6%), although multiple studies showed poor correlation between subscapularis functional testing and musculotendinous integrity. Mean total Constant and Western Ontario Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder Index outcome scores were slightly better for LTO (77.6, 84.2) than for SP (71.8 and 82.7). Mean American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores favored the ST group (80.8) over the SP (79.1) and LTO (73) groups.

Conclusions: The data suggest no significant differences exist for postoperative musculotendinous integrity or clinical outcomes among the subscapularis management techniques in shoulder arthroplasty. Subscapularis healing and integrity appear to favor the lesser tuberosity takedown method. Additional randomized controlled comparisons with long-term follow-up are needed to more effectively compare these surgical approaches.

Keywords: Subscapularis tenotomy; lesser tuberosity osteotomy; outcomes; shoulder arthroplasty; subscapularis peel; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Shoulder*
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / physiopathology
  • Joint Diseases / surgery*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery*