Shoulder arthrodesis for treatment of flail shoulder in children with polio

Joshua D. Miller, Joseph R. Pinero, Rachel Goldstein, Yi Meng Yen, William Eves, Norman Y. Otsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Poliomyelitis in children can cause paralysis of shoulder girdle muscles leading to a flail shoulder. Shoulder arthrodesis is indicated as a possible treatment for these children in order to stabilize the shoulder. This retrospective study reviewed all shoulder arthrodesis surgeries owing to complications of polio performed at a major medical institution between 1981 and 1996 to assess position of fusion, radiographic evidence of fusion, complications, and patient satisfaction. Methods: A review of medical records identified 11 patients undergoing 13 shoulder arthrodesis procedures, with a mean age of 14.7 years at the time of the procedure. Internal fixation was achieved with large cancellous screws in 8 patients and a Dynamic Compression Plate (DCP) plate in 5 procedures. Average follow-up period was 41 months. Eight patients were placed into a spica cast and 5 used a sling postoperatively. Results: Shoulder arthrodesis surgery in this cohort resulted in an average position of fusion with 42.3 degrees of abduction, 23.8 degrees of flexion, and 26.2 degrees of internal rotation. Twelve of the 13 procedures assessed for radiographic union demonstrated fusion. The most common complications were malrotation and nonunion. Of the 13 procedures, 2 underwent humeral osteotomies for malrotation, and 1 with 6.5 mm cancellous screws required revision with a DCP plate owing to nonunion. Six patients underwent hardware removal, 3 of which were specifically owing to complaints of painful hardware. At final follow-up, no patient reported pain and all expressed satisfaction with their results and improved shoulder function after repair. Conclusion: This study is the largest series of shoulder arthrodesis surgeries for treatment of patients with a flail shoulder from polio to date, providing a more thorough analysis of its efficacy as an indicated treatment. Level of evidence: Level III-Retrospective Comparative Study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-682
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • flail shoulder
  • pediatrics
  • polio
  • poliomyelitis
  • shoulder arthrodesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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