The battle against osteosarcoma, a prevalent form of bone cancer affecting the proximal humerus, is grueling yet imperative. The determinants of survival hinge on the cancer’s stage, dictating the course of treatment for each patient. Though numerous salvage operations are suggested, no unanimous agreement exists on the optimal approach. A remarkable case of a 17-year-old patient who underwent reverse shoulder arthroplasty post the failure of a megaprosthesis offers insights and prompts a discussion. The long-term result, a decade in review, reveals a triumph in both function and aesthetic – a beacon of hope in the complex, multifaceted clash with osteosarcoma.

The Case Report

Published in the Journal of Clinical Orthopaedics and Trauma in 2020, researchers Chauhan, Singh, Vaish, and Vaishya reported a seminal case of osteosarcoma management wherein a megaprosthesis failed, leading to a successful reverse shoulder arthroplasty (DOI: 10.1016/j.jcot.2019.03.015). This case is not just about a favorable outcome but also a narrative to evaluate the implications of extended megaprosthesis use and associated complications.

The Initial Challenge

Histories of large bone tumor resections often tell of subsequent high complication rates and significant psychological strain. The subject of this study, after a broad excision of the osteosarcoma, had initially received a megaprosthesis, which later failed. Such frustrations illustrate the diagnostic challenges that orthopedic oncologists regularly encounter (Dahan et al., 2017). When the megaprosthesis is involved, a delicate balance must be struck between removing the cancerous tissue entirely and preserving as much of the patient’s bone and joint function as possible.

The Salvage Operation

Following the failure and subluxation of the revised prosthesis, reverse shoulder arthroplasty was performed. It is a surgical procedure where the natural ball-and-socket structure of the shoulder joint is reversed, placing the ball portion on the shoulder blade and the socket on the humerus. This procedure can provide greater stability and improved function for patients who lack a functional rotator cuff, which is often the case after extensive tumor resections.

The Outcome and Follow-Up

The patient’s ten-year follow-up depicted a remarkable success story. The reverse shoulder arthroplasty provided the desired functional and aesthetic results, emphasizing this technique’s efficacy as a salvage operation. The case reinforces the work of researchers like Maclean et al. (2017), who advocated that reverse shoulder endoprosthesis could be viable for managing pathologic lesions of the proximal humerus.

Literature Review

A comprehensive review of the literature, including works by Bickels et al. (2002), highlights the spectrum of salvage operations after osteosarcoma. Limb-sparing resections offer hope, but innovations like reverse shoulder arthroplasty push the boundaries further. Research by Picci (2007) on osteosarcoma provides grounding knowledge into the malignancy and pioneers like De Wilde and Plasschaert (2005) offer case studies of prosthetic treatments post-tumor resection, setting the stage for surgeries like the one in question.

Complications and Concerns

The megaprosthesis carries significant risk, especially when used during extended periods. Gkavardina and Tsagozis (2014) provide a critical review of using megaprostheses for large skeletal defects, discussing the multifarious complications that may ensue. Blacksins et al. (2004) detail common complications following limb-salvage surgery, often necessitating revisions like the one outlined in the case study. Cannon et al. (2009) delve into the functional outcomes post endoprosthetic reconstruction, driving an understanding of post-operative quality of life.

The Bigger Picture

The case and associated literature shed light on the ongoing quest to refine osteosarcoma management. Surgeons must grapple with choices that could impact patients both immediately and over their remaining lifespan. As survival rates for bone tumors improve, the onus is on approaches that align long-term functionality with quality of life.


1. Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty
2. Megaprosthesis Complications
3. Osteosarcoma Treatment Options
4. Proximal Humerus Reconstruction
5. Long-Term Cancer Survivorship


A singular case of a successful reverse shoulder arthroplasty following megaprosthesis failure paves the way for a better understanding of salvage surgery for osteosarcoma of the proximal humerus. It underscores the need to manage expectations, handle complex decisions, and remain flexible in a field where the life-altering impact of cancer confronts the ever-evolving domain of orthopedic oncology.


1. Chauhan, V., Singh, V. S., Vaish, A., & Vaishya, R. (2020). Reverse shoulder arthroplasty after failed megaprosthesis for osteosarcoma of the proximal humerus: A case report and review of literature. Journal of Clinical Orthopaedics and Trauma, 11(3), 526-530. doi:10.1016/j.jcot.2019.03.015

2. Dahan, M., Anract, P., Babinet, A., Larousserie, F., & Biau, D. (2017). Proximal femoral osteosarcoma: diagnostic challenges translate into delayed and inappropriate management. Orthopaedics & Traumatology, Surgery & Research, 103(7), 1011-1015.

3. Maclean, S., Khan, F., Malik, S. S., & Ramakrishnan, M. (2017). Reverse shoulder endoprosthesis for pathologic lesions of the proximal humerus: a minimum 3-year follow-up. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, 26(11), 1990-1994.

4. Picci, P. (2007). Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic sarcoma). Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, 2, 6. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-2-6

5. De Wilde, L., & Plasschaert, F. S. (2005). Prosthetic treatment and functional recovery of the shoulder after tumor resection. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, 14(6), 645-649.