Shoulder replacement surgery

What is it?

You might require replacement surgery if your shoulder joint gets severely damaged through an injury or you suffer from a degenerative condition like arthritis.

Your surgeon will replace either part or, more usually, your entire shoulder joint with artificial parts.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your shoulder is working.

You might need some additional tests:

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Your consultant will then discuss what the most appropriate procedure is for you. This will depend on the condition of the muscles around your shoulder, the stability of your shoulder and the strength of your bones.

There are three types of shoulder replacement surgeries:

  • Reverse polarity total shoulder replacement: This is the most common type and is usually carried out for a torn rotator cuff associated with shoulder arthritis. It’s also performed if a previous shoulder replacement surgery hasn’t worked. The metal ball gets attached to your shoulder blade and a socket is implanted at the top of your arm, "reversing" the natural ball-and-socket orientation.
  • Anatomical total shoulder replacement: Your surgeon will replace the ball at the top of your humerus (arm bone) with a metal ball, which is attached to the remaining bone. The socket gets covered with a new plastic surface in a "like-for-like" procedure.
  • Partial shoulder replacement: Only the ball at the top of the humerus gets replaced. This is the least common option.

You may be required to stay in hospital for up to five days after your operation, depending on how good your general health is and how much assistance you have/will require at home.

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