Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Shoulder replacements are usually performed to relieve pain. The most common type of shoulder replacement involves replacing the damaged bone and cartilage with a highly polished metal ball attached to a stem and a plastic socket.

Much like the hip joint, the shoulder is basically a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is the top of the humerus (arm bone) and the socket is within the scapula (shoulder blade). The design of this joint allows individuals a great range of motion at the shoulder.

During shoulder replacement surgery, the ball is removed from the top of the arm bone and then replaced with the metal implant. This implant is shaped like a half-moon and is attached to a stem that is inserted down the center of the arm bone. The socket portion of the joint is then shaved clean and replaced with the plastic socket that is cemented into the shoulder blade.


Appointment Checklist

Each of your surgeons may have slightly different recommendations for preparation for shoulder surgery. Please check with your surgeon as the comments below are only guidelines.

It is important to remember that successful surgery invariably depends on a good partnership between the experienced surgeon and the patient. Patients should always try to optimize their overall health in order to be in the best possible condition for this procedure. Ideally, patients who smoke should stop at least one month prior to surgery and not resume for a minimum of three months afterward. Any lung, kidney, heart, bladder, tooth, or gum problems should be dealt with before surgery. Even the smallest infection may be reason enough to delay the operation. Some surgeons may ask that you scrub with a special soap, such as Phisohex before surgery. The specifics of which soap and the method of use should be discussed with your surgeon. Importantly, the surgeon needs to be aware of all significant health issues, especially known allergies and the prescription and nonprescription medications being taken, as some of these medications might have to be modified or stopped completely. This is true for medications such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs which may affect the way blood clots. Since blood transfusions may be called for, patients may select to have a blood bank draw and store the patient’s own blood for a possible auto-transfusion. In addition, surgical procedures for elbow arthritis may be delayed until the time that is best for the patient’s well-being. However, in cases involving rheumatoid arthritis or other types of inflammatory arthritis, excessive delays may result in the loss of tendon tissue and bone. These losses may compromise the quality of the surgery as well as its result.

Prior to surgery, patients should always consider the alternatives, limitations, and risks of surgery. Patients should also recognize that the result of any surgery largely depends on their efforts in rehabilitation after surgery.

The patient should plan on being less functional for a period approximately six to twelve weeks after the operation. Shopping, driving, or performing normal work or chores may be difficult during this time. Plans for assistance should be arranged prior to surgery. For those individuals who live alone or are without readily-available help, arrangements for home care should be made well in advance.

When shoulder replacement surgery is performed, the ball is removed from the top of the humerus and replaced with a metal implant. This is shaped like a half-moon and attached to a stem inserted down the center of the arm bone. The socket portion of the joint is shaved clean and replaced with a plastic socket that is cemented into the scapula.

Related Specialties

Stories Related to Shoulder Replacement Surgery

1 of 1
You are using an unsupported version of Internet Explorer. To ensure security, performance, and full functionality, please upgrade to an up-to-date browser.