A comparison of normal and osteoarthritic humeral head size and morphology

Nikolas K. Knowles, Michael J. Carroll, Jay D. Keener, Louis M. Ferreira, George S. Athwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate and to compare the size and morphologic patterns among normal and osteoarthritic (OA) humeral heads. Methods: This comparative anatomic imaging study evaluated 150 humeral heads that were separated into 3 cohorts: normal, OA with symmetric glenoid erosion, and OA with asymmetric (type B2) glenoid erosion. Three-dimensional models were created of the humeral head from computed tomography data, and point coordinates were extracted for evaluation. Parameters measured were diameter (sphere fit and circle fit), chord distance (superoinferior and anteroposterior), and humeral head height. Results: The sphere-fit diameter of the humeral head for the entire OA cohort (100 patients; mean diameter, 59 ± 9 mm) was significantly greater (P < .001) than that of the normal cohort (50 patients; mean diameter, 49 ± 5 mm). Similarly, the humeral head circle-fit diameters in the superoinferior and anteroposterior planes were significantly greater (P < .001) in the combined OA cohorts (59 ± 9 mm and 56 ± 10 mm, respectively) compared with the normal cohort (51 ± 5 mm and 47 ± 5 mm, respectively). However, there were no significant differences (P ≥ .099) between the symmetric and asymmetric OA cohorts in sphere-fit or circle-fit diameters. The mean values of humeral head heights were not significantly different (P = .382) between cohorts, 19 ± 2 mm, 18 ± 2 mm, and 18 ± 2 mm for the normal, symmetric, and asymmetric cohorts, respectively. Discussion: Although OA humeral head morphology varies significantly from normal, it does not vary as a function of the Walch classification between symmetric and asymmetric glenoids. Understanding of the morphologic variability of the pathologic humeral head may provide insight into the pathoanatomy of osteoarthritis and the development of various erosion patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-509
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Biconcave
  • Humeral head
  • Morphology
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Shoulder arthroplasty
  • Type B2


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