Clinical Review

Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty: Indications and Techniques Across the World

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  • RTSA is an effective treatment for rotator cuff tear arthropathy (the most common reason patients undergo RTSA).
  • While there has been a plethora of literature surrounding outcomes of RTSA over the past several years, the methodological quality of this literature has been limited.
  • Similarly, this study found the number of publications surrounding RTSA is increasing each year while the average methodological quality of these studies is decreasing.
  • Females undergo RTSA more commonly than males, and the average age of patients undergoing RTSA is 71 years.
  • Interestingly, patients’ postoperative external rotation was higher in studies out of North America compared to other continents. Further research into this area is needed to understand more about this finding.




Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (RTSA) is a common treatment for rotator cuff tear arthropathy. We performed a systematic review of all the RTSA literature to answer if we are treating the same patients with RTSA, across the world.

A systematic review was registered with PROSPERO, the international prospective register of systematic reviews, and performed with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines using 3 publicly available free databases. Therapeutic clinical outcome investigations reporting RTSA outcomes with levels of evidence I to IV were eligible for inclusion. All study, subject, and surgical technique demographics were analyzed and compared between continents. Statistical comparisons were conducted using linear regression, analysis of variance (ANOVA), Fisher's exact test, and Pearson's chi-square test.

There were 103 studies included in the analysis (8973 patients; 62% female; mean age, 70.9 ± 6.7 years; mean length of follow-up, 34.3 ± 19.3 months) that had a low Modified Coleman Methodology Score (MCMS) (mean, 36.9 ± 8.7: poor). Most patients (60.8%) underwent RTSA for a diagnosis of rotator cuff arthropathy, whereas 1% underwent RTSA for fracture; indications varied by continent. There were no consistent reports of preopeartive or postoperative scores from studies in any region. Studies from North America reported significantly higher postoperative external rotation (34.1° ± 13.3° vs 19.3° ± 8.9°) (P < .001) and a greater change in flexion (69.0° ± 24.5° vs 56.3° ± 11.3°) (P = .004) compared with studies from Europe. North America had the greatest total number of publications followed by Europe. The total yearly number of publications increased each year (P < .001), whereas the MCMS decreased each year (P = .037).

The quantity, but not the quality of RTSA studies is increasing. Indications for RTSA varied by continent, although most patients underwent RTSA for rotator cuff arthropathy. The majority of patients undergoing RTSA are female over the age of 60 years for a diagnosis of rotator cuff arthropathy with pseudoparalysis.

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