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Shoulder replacement

Definition

Shoulder replacement is surgery to replace the bones of the shoulder joint with artificial joint parts.

Alternative Names

Total shoulder arthroplasty; Endoprosthetic shoulder replacement; Partial shoulder replacement; Partial shoulder arthroplasty; Replacement - shoulder; Arthroplasty - shoulder

Description

You may receive general anesthesia before this surgery. This means you will be unconscious and unable to feel pain. Or, you may have regional anesthesia. Your arm and shoulder area will be numbed so that you do not feel any pain in this area. If you receive regional anesthesia, you will also be given medicine to help you relax during the operation.

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The round end of one bone fits into a cavity, or socket, at the end of another bone. This type of joint allows you to move your arm in most directions.

For total shoulder replacement, the round end of your arm bone will be replaced with an artificial stem that has a rounded metal head. The socket part of your shoulder joint will be replaced with a smooth plastic shell (lining) that will be held in place with a special cement. If only 1 of these 2 bones needs to be replaced, the surgery is called a partial shoulder replacement.

For shoulder joint replacement, your surgeon will make an incision (cut) over your shoulder joint to open up the area. Then your surgeon will:

  • Remove the head (top) of your upper arm bone (humerus)
  • Cement the new metal head and stem into place
  • Smooth the surface of the old socket and cement the new shell in place
  • Close your incision with staples or sutures
  • Place a dressing (bandage) over your wound

Your surgeon may place a drain in this area to carry out fluid that may build up in the joint. The drain will be removed when you no longer need it.

This surgery usually takes 1 to 3 hours.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Shoulder replacement surgery is usually done when the joint is badly damaged and there is pain or loss of motion. Causes of damage include:

Risks

Risks for any anesthesia are:

Risk for any surgery are:

Risks of shoulder replacement surgery are:

  • Allergic reaction to the artificial joint
  • Blood vessel damage during surgery
  • Bone break during surgery
  • Nerve damage during surgery
  • Dislocation of the artificial joint
  • Loosening of the implant over time

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the 2 weeks before your surgery:

  • Two weeks before surgery you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and other drugs.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions, your surgeon will ask you to see your doctor who treats you for these conditions.
  • Tell your doctor if you have been drinking a lot of alcohol, more than 1 or 2 drinks a day.
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help. Smoking can slow down wound and bone healing.
  • Always let your doctor know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you may have before your surgery.

On the day of your surgery:

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 12 hours before the procedure.
  • Take your drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After the Procedure

You may stay in the hospital for 1 to 3 days after your surgery. While there, you may receive physical therapy to help keep the muscles around your shoulder from getting stiff. Before you go home, the physical therapist will teach you how to move your arm around by using your other (good) arm.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Shoulder replacement surgery relieves pain and stiffness for most people. You should be able to do most of your normal daily activities without much problem. Many people are able to return to sports such as golf, swimming, gardening, bowling, and others.

Your new shoulder joint will last longer if less stress is placed on it. With normal use, most people’s new shoulders last for at least 10 years.

References

Azar FM, Calandruccio JH. Arthroplasty of the shoulder and elbow. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 8.

Goldberg VM, Kraay MJ. Surgical treatment of joint diseases. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 299.


Review Date: 2/9/2009
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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