A three-dimensional analysis of humeral head retroversion
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Introduction: The anatomic neck of the humerus is used as a reference for the osteotomy in shoulder arthroplasty. Resection along the anterior portion of the cartilage/metaphyseal border is assumed to remove a cap of a sphere that can accurately be replaced with a spherical prosthetic implant oriented precisely to the original articular surface. The aim of this study was to determine the variability in retroversion of the cartilage/metaphyseal interface in the axial plane. Methods: Surface topography data for 24 arms from deceased donors were collected by using a hand-held digitizer and a surface laser scanner. Data were combined into the same coordinate system and graphically presented. The humeral head was divided into 6 sections in the axial plane and the retroversion angle measured at each level with reference to the transepicondylar axis at the elbow. Results: The mean retroversion of the humeral head at the midpoint between the superior and inferior margins was 18.6°. The angle increased as the position of the measurement moved superiorly to 22.5°. In contrast, the retroversion angle reduced as the position of measurement moved more inferiorly to 14.3°. Discussion: The results suggest that the cartilage/metaphyseal interface is not circular encompassing a spherical cap of a sphere. Furthermore, there appears to be a clockwise torsion of the cartilage/metaphyseal interface about the transverse axis from its medial to lateral aspect. Conclusion: The cartilage/metaphyseal interface shows a degree of variability that makes it an unreliable landmark to perform an osteotomy when the anterior aspect of the interface is used. © 2011 Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Board of Trustees.