Ipsilateral total shoulder and elbow arthroplasties in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis

David R.J. Gill, Robert H. Cofield, Bernard F. Morrey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: The data on seventeen patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had been managed with ipsilateral total shoulder and elbow arthroplasties were analyzed to determine whether the operative technique, the presence of total shoulder and total elbow prostheses in the same upper extremity, or complications of the arthroplasties affected the result in each joint or the overall functional outcome of the upper extremity. Methods: Seventeen patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were managed with a total of eighteen ipsilateral total shoulder and elbow arthroplasties were evaluated. The most recent physical examination was at an average of six years and six months (range, two years and one month to fourteen years) postoperatively. Radiographs, including 40-degree oblique and axillary radiographs of the shoulder as well as anteroposterior and lateral radiographs of the elbow, were made at an average of six years and eleven months (range, two years and two months to twenty-two years and eleven months) postoperatively. The radiographs of the shoulder were examined for loosening of the glenoid component, glenohumeral subluxation, and radiolucency at the bone-cement or bone-implant interface. The functional results of the total shoulder arthroplasties were evaluated with use of the rating systems of Neer et al. and Cofield. The Mayo elbow-performance score was used to evaluate elbow function. A rating system was also developed to assess the overall function of the upper extremity, including pain and motion of both the elbow and the shoulder. With this system, the overall function of the upper extremity was rated as excellent, good, fair, or poor. Results: Evaluation of the shoulders revealed substantial relief of pain and an increase in active elevation. On radiographic evaluation, eight glenoid and five humeral components were considered to be loose. There were no reoperations. According to the rating system of Neer et al., eight shoulders had a satisfactory result and eight had an unsatisfactory result with limited active abduction. Limited-goals rehabilitation was successful after one shoulder arthroplasty and unsuccessful after another. There were two type-B periprosthetic humeral fractures. There was also substantial relief of pain in the elbows as well as an increase in the extension-flexion arc; the pronation-supination arc was sufficient for tasks of daily living. There was no radiographic loosening. Two elbows had an avulsion of the triceps, and two had aseptic loosening (one of which also had a worn bushing); all four needed a reoperation. One other elbow had persistent ulnar neuritis. The average interval between the arthroplasties was two years and eight months when the shoulder was replaced first and three years and five months when the elbow was replaced first. The interval between the joint replacements and the sequence of the joint replacements were not found to influence the outcome. Function of the extremity was improved by replacement of either the shoulder or the elbow alone; however, it improved significantly only when both joints were replaced (p = 0.03). According to combined clinical outcomes scores, there were nine excellent outcomes, four good outcomes, four fair outcomes, and one poor outcome after ipsilateral total shoulder and elbow arthroplasties. Conclusions: When there is severe arthritis of both the shoulder and the elbow, consideration should be given to replacing both joints in order to obtain optimum functional and clinical outcomes. The possibility of fracture of the humeral shaft necessitates an alteration of the technique for ipsilateral total shoulder and elbow arthroplasties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1128-1131
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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