Shoulder joint replacement is a surgical procedure performed to replace a damaged shoulder joint with artificial implants. It is usually performed to relieve shoulder pain when the joint is severely damaged by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, rotator cuff tear arthropathy, avascular necrosis (tissue death), fracture and failed former shoulder replacement surgery.
During the surgery, an incision is made over the affected shoulder to expose the shoulder joint. The humerus is separated from the glenoid socket of the scapula. The arthritic parts of the humeral head and socket are removed and prepared. A carefully designed glenoid component made of plastic is attached to the socket with bone cement, and the humeral component, consisting of a metal ball attached to a stem, is cemented with bone graft or press-fitted into the upper arm bone. The two ends are brought together, and the joint capsule is stitched closed to hold the joint in place. The muscle and tendons are then repaired and skin is closed. This procedure is called a total shoulder replacement. Depending on the level of damage to the joint, your doctor may choose to replace only a part of the joint:
- Damaged humeral head is replaced with a prosthetic ball and stem (stemmed hemiarthroplasty)
- Damaged humeral head is replaced with only a cap-like prosthetic head, without stem (resurfacing hemiarthroplasty)
As with all surgical procedures, shoulder joint replacement surgery may be associated with certain complications such as infection, dislocation or instability of the implanted joint, fracture of the humerus, damage to nerves or blood vessels, blood clots (deep vein thrombosis), problems with wound healing, wearing of the joints or scar formation.