Shoulder Replacement Surgery

During shoulder replacement surgery, your Orthopedic surgeon will replace all or part of your problem shoulder with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis. The prosthesis replaces the rough, worn parts of your shoulder with smooth metal and plastic parts. These parts are skillfully integrated during shoulder surgery.

Before your surgery

You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of your scheduled shoulder surgery. Be sure to follow all of your surgeon’s instructions on preparing for surgery.

  • You should stop eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery.
  • If you take a daily medication, ask your shoulder doctor if you should still take it the morning of surgery.

At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked.

An IV (intravenous) line may be started to provide fluids and medications needed during shoulder surgery.

The surgical procedure

When your surgeon and the rest of the surgical team are ready, you’ll be taken to the operating room. There you’ll be given anesthesia to help you sleep through shoulder surgery. Your surgeon may replace just the ball (partial replacement) or both the ball and the socket (total replacement). An incision about six inches long is made from your collarbone to your arm. Once the new joint is in place, your doctor closes the incision with special surgical glue.

After your surgery

After your shoulder replacement surgery, you’ll be sent to the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit). When you are fully awake, you’ll be moved to your room. The nurses will give you medications to ease your pain. An SCD (Sequential Compression Device) may be used to prevent blood clots by gently squeezing then releasing your legs.

Soon, our orthopedic team will help you get up and moving. They know precisely what they’re doing and how to help you recover, heal, and get back to life in the fastest, safest way possible. You may also have physical therapy or occupational therapy after your shoulder surgery. You may need to wear an arm sling for 2 to 4 weeks, based on the advice of your Orthopedic surgeon.

Risks and complications

As with any surgery, shoulder replacement surgery carries possible risks and complications. These include the following:

  • Reaction to the anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Dislocation of the joint or loosening of the prosthesis
  • Fracture
  • Wearing out the prosthetic
  • Damage to nearby blood vessels, bones, or nerves
  • Pain

When to call your Orthopedic Surgeon

Once at home, call your Doctor if you have any of the symptoms below:

  • An increase in pain not relieved by your pain medicine
  • Unusual redness, heat, or drainage at the incision site
  • Fever over 101.0°F (38.3°C)

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