Impact of scapular notching on reverse total shoulder arthroplasty midterm outcomes: 5-year minimum follow-up

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2019 Dec;28(12):2301-2307. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2019.04.042. Epub 2019 Jul 13.


Background: The impact of scapula notching on reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (rTSA) clinical outcomes is controversial. The purpose of this study was to conduct a sufficiently statistically powered analysis to quantify the impact of scapular notching on midterm rTSA outcomes.

Methods: There were 324 rTSA patients with 5 years of minimum follow-up evaluated. Patients were stratified according to the presence of a scapular notch at latest follow-up; radiographs were also assessed at each time point for patients with notching to determine the time for notch grade development. A 2-tailed, unpaired t-test compared preoperative, postoperative, and preoperative to postoperative outcomes between cohorts.

Results: There were 324 patients having an average follow-up of 75.1 months assessed; 47 (14.5%) patients had scapular notching. For scapular notching patients, the average notching grade was 1.7 ± 0.8 (24 grade 1, 15 grade 2, and 8 grade 3). The average time to notch development was 51.4 ± 24.1 months; grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3 notches developed at 49.0 ± 22.1 months, 57.5 ± 22.6 months, and 71.6 ± 15.8 months, respectively. No preoperative differences were observed between cohorts. At latest follow-up, scapular notching patients had significantly worse outcome scores and significantly less active abduction, forward flexion, and strength. Finally, scapular notching patients had significantly more complications, revisions, and humeral radiolucent lines.

Conclusions: Scapular notching patients had significantly worse clinical outcomes and less range of motion than patients without scapular notching; these differences exceeded the minimal clinically important difference threshold for several outcome metrics. Based on these results, we recommend minimizing scapular notching through patient and implant selection and technique modification.

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Shoulder* / adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Shoulder* / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Scapula / diagnostic imaging*
  • Scapula / pathology
  • Scapula / surgery
  • Shoulder Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology*
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome