Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 470, Issue 8, pp 2193–2201

Subscapularis Release in Shoulder Replacement Determines Structural Muscular Changes

  • Lieven Franciscus De Wilde
  • Tineke De Coninck
  • Francis De Neve
  • Bart M. Berghs
Clinical Research

DOI: 10.1007/s11999-012-2291-x

Cite this article as:
De Wilde, L.F., De Coninck, T., De Neve, F. et al. Clin Orthop Relat Res (2012) 470: 2193. doi:10.1007/s11999-012-2291-x



Osteotomy of the lesser tuberosity in shoulder arthroplasty allows bony healing of the subscapularis tendon but does not prevent fatty degeneration in its muscle. Occurrence or increase in fatty degeneration may depend on the surgical technique.


We (1) assessed fatty degeneration in the subscapularis muscle and its cross-sectional area after a C-block osteotomy of the lesser tuberosity with minimal mobilization of the subscapularis muscle, and (2) determined whether this technique had any adverse effect on function, fatty degeneration, and cross-sectional area of the subscapularis muscle.


We retrospectively examined 36 patients with shoulder replacements who had C-block osteotomies. Constant-Murley scores and clinical signs of subscapularis insufficiency were recorded. We radiographically assessed prosthetic placement. On CT scans, lesser tuberosity healing, fatty degeneration, and cross-sectional area of the subscapularis muscle were determined. The minimum followup was 13 months (mean, 18 months; range, 13–33 months).


The mean absolute Constant-Murley score was 71.2. Two patients had weakness of the subscapularis muscle without loss of active motion. All tuberosities healed anatomically. A normal glenohumeral relationship was found in all cases. Fatty degeneration was Grade 0 in 44%, Grade 1 in 39%, Grade 2 in 14%, and Grade 3 in 3%. The subscapularis muscular cross-sectional area decreased from 16.7 cm2 preoperatively to 14.5 cm2 postoperatively (13%).


The C-block osteotomy with minimal dissection of the subscapularis is associated with a low incidence of fatty degeneration in the subscapularis muscle after shoulder arthroplasty although the muscular cross-sectional area of the subscapularis decreased.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons® 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lieven Franciscus De Wilde
    • 1
  • Tineke De Coninck
    • 1
  • Francis De Neve
    • 1
  • Bart M. Berghs
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and TraumatologyGhent University HospitalGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and TraumatologyAZ St Jan AV Brugge-OostendeBruggeBelgium