These authors point out that revision of a well-fixed humeral stem has the potential risk of loss of humeral bone stock, nerve injury, periprosthetic fracture, and malunion or nonunion of a humeral osteotomy with later humeral component loosening.
They conducted a retrospective study of 48 hemiarthroplasties and eight total shoulder arthroplasties that were converted to a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty system.
The commonest reasons for conversion to a reverse shoulder arthroplasty was rotator cuff lesion with instability/loss of function (29), aseptic stem loosening (8), stem malposition with functional deficit (8), failure of glenoid component (6), and glenoid erosion (5).
In 13 cases (all with modular stems) the surgeon elected retain the humeral stem and in 43 (6 with modular stems and 37 without modular seems) the surgeon elected to change the stem because of stem loosening in 10 cases, stem malposition in 8, and difficulty in conversion of a non modular stem to a reverse in 25. In 12 cases a longitudinal humeral osteotomy was required for stem removal.
Blood loss, surgical time, the rate of complications (principally fractures) and revision rate were greater in the cases where the surgeon chose to perform a full stem exchange.