An uncommon and technically complex procedure, long term results of shoulder fusion remain scarce.
Colloquially known as “shoulder fusion,” gleno-humeral arthrodesis is a procedure in which the proximal end of the humerus is fused to the glenoid surface of the scapula in order to eliminate all motion of this joint. Despite resultant restriction, patients with good motor control can still achieve around one third of normal shoulder range of motion because the scapula-thoracic motion is left intact.
Reverse shoulder arthroplasty has successfully replaced many situations where fusion was historically indicated including resection arthroplasty, failed conventional arthroplasty, rotator cuff arthropathy and recurrent intractable instability. Despite such progress, fusion remains the only valid option for other indications. Following brachial plexus injuries for example, fusion helps patients regain the ability to position their hand in space and prevents dislocation due to decreased muscular tone. It is also useful in conditions where the use of prosthetic implants is precluded, such as native or chronic prosthetic joint infection, and young high-demand patients with advanced destruction of the gleno-humeral joint[1–3].