BackgroundElliptical shape humeral head prostheses have been recently proposed to reflect a more anatomic shoulder replacement. However, its effect on obligate glenohumeral translation during axial rotation compared to a standard spherical head is still not well understood. The purpose of the study was to compare obligate humeral translation during axial rotation using spherical and elliptical shaped humeral head prostheses. It was hypothesized that the spherical head design would show significantly more obligate translation when compared to the elliptical design.MethodsSix fresh-frozen cadaveric shoulders were utilized for biomechanical testing of internal (IR) and external (ER) rotation at various levels of abduction (0°, 30°, 45°, 60°) with lines of pull along each of the rotator cuff muscles. Each specimen underwent the following three conditions: (1) native; total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) using (2) an elliptical and (3) spherical humeral head implant. Obligate translation during IR and ER was quantified using a 3-dimensional digitizer. The radius of curvature of the superoinferior and anteroposterior dimensions of the implants was calculated across each condition.ResultsPosterior and inferior translation as well as compound motion of spherical and elliptical heads during ER was similar at all abduction angles (P > 0.05, respectively). Compared to the native humeral head, both implants demonstrated significantly decreased posterior translation at 45° (elliptical: P = 0.003; spherical: P = 0.004) and 60° of abduction (elliptical: P < 0.001; spherical: P < 0.001). During internal rotation at 0° abduction, the spherical head showed significantly more compound motion (P = 0.042) compared to the elliptical head. The spherical implant also demonstrated increased anterior translation and compound motion during internal rotation at 60° abduction (P < 0.001) compared to the resting state. This difference was not significant for the native or elliptical head design at this angle (P > 0.05).ConclusionIn the setting of TSA, elliptical and spherical head implants showed similar obligate translation and overall compound motion during axial rotation. A gained understanding of the consequences of implant head shape in TSA may guide future surgical implant choice for better recreation of native shoulder kinematics and potentially improved patient outcomes.Level of evidenceControlled Laboratory Study.

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