Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

The relationship of bilateral shoulder arthroplasty timing and postoperative complications


      Though several case series have described bilateral shoulder arthroplasty results with range of motion, patient-reported outcomes, and complications, little guidance exists regarding the optimal interval timing between surgeries.


      All patients from 2 insurance databases who underwent staged bilateral shoulder arthroplasty between 2005 and 2016 were identified. These patients were then stratified by elapsed time between surgeries into 4 study groups: (1) less than 3 months, (2) 3-6 months, (3) 6-9 months, and (4) 9-12 months. Surgical and perioperative medical complications of these patient cohorts were compared to a control group that underwent bilateral shoulder arthroplasty with a greater than 1-year interval between surgeries.


      From 2005-2016, a total of 1764 patients (6.3%) underwent bilateral shoulder arthroplasty out of 27,962 shoulder arthroplasties performed in the 2 databases. Of the bilateral patients, 49.1% waited more than 1 year before their second shoulder arthroplasty. Patients waiting less than 3 months between surgeries comprised 4.9% of the total number of staged bilateral surgeries. Demographics and comorbidities were similar between the study groups. Overall, implant complications were higher in patients with surgeries less than 3 months apart compared to controls, including revision arthroplasty (11.6% vs. 5.4%, odds ratio [OR] 2.29, P = .037), loosening/lysis (8.1% vs. 3.5%, OR 2.46, P = .032), and periprosthetic fracture (4.7% vs. 1.2%, OR 4.18, P = .010). There were no significant increases in any implant-related complications when surgeries were staged by 3 months or more compared to controls. Venous thromboembolism (VTE; 8.1% vs. 2.2%, OR 3.95, P = .001) and blood transfusion (9.3% vs. 1.7%, OR 5.82, P < .001) occurred at a significantly higher rate in patients with less than 3 months between surgeries compared with controls. There were no differences in any medical complications when surgeries were staged by 3 months or more compared with controls.


      Patients with staged bilateral shoulder arthroplasty who have the second arthroplasty within 3 months have significantly higher rates of revision surgery, loosening/lysis, periprosthetic fracture, VTE, and blood transfusions. Based on these lower complication rates, surgeons should consider waiting a minimum of 3 months before performing the second portion of a staged bilateral shoulder arthroplasty.

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