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Vol 44, No 4 (2010) Pages :328-336

Neuropathic arthropathy of the shoulder associated with syringomyelia: a report of six cases

Ata Can Atalar, Mustafa Sungur, Mehmet Demirhan, Harzem Ozger

Here, we report a series of 5 patients (6 shoulders) diagnosed with neuropathic arthropathy of the shoulder joint in our clinic between 2005 and 2008. Initial diagnosis, previous treatment, and radiological and clinical follow-up findings were reviewed. The mean age at diagnosis was 44.2 years. Four patients had unilateral and 1 patient had bilateral involvement. The presenting symptoms were pain, swelling, and loss in range of motion. Active forward flexion and abduction ranged from 0° to 90°. Hypoesthesia and loss of temperature sense was evident in 3 patients. Radiographs showed massive osteolysis of humeral head and glenoid process, and magnetic resonance imaging showed periarticular fluid collection, and degeneration at the rotator cuff and shoulder joint, resembling chronic septic arthritis or sarcoma. Biopsy was performed in 4 patients before definitive diagnosis, and synovial hypertrophy and necrotic bone was found. Two patients had a history of operated cervical syringomyelia, and the remaining 3 patients were later diagnosed to have syringomyelia and referred to neurosurgery clinic, where 2 of those were operated. Four patients were followed-up with symptomatic therapy, and 1 patient underwent an unsuccessful shoulder arthroplasty in another clinic. As a conclusion, neuropathic arthropathy of the shoulder is rare, and correct diagnosis is possible by careful physical and neurological examination and pathologic evaluation when needed.