What is a shoulder replacement?

A shoulder replacement, also known as shoulder arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure that involves replacing the damaged or diseased parts of the shoulder joint with artificial components. This procedure is typically recommended for individuals with severe arthritis or other conditions that have not responded to non-surgical treatments.

Over 7,800 shoulder replacements were performed in Australia in 2020.

Types of Shoulder Replacement

Primary Shoulder ReplacementPrimary Shoulder Replacement (Exactech Equinoxe)

Reverse Shoulder Replacement

There are 2 basic types of shoulder replacements: primary and reverse.

A primary shoulder replacement is used if your rotator cuff is intact

A reverse shoulder replacement is chosen if your rotator cuff is severely torn.

The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that surrounds the top of your humerus, and are very important in the movement and stability of your shoulder.

Who should have surgery?

Severe arthritis and tearing of the rotator cuff, are the most common reasons to have a shoulder replacement. Most people who have shoulder replacements at over 60 years of age, and the pain of the shoulder arthritis has become severe affecting the ability to use the arm, with constant pain.

There are many non-surgical treatment options available such as medication, physiotherapy or lifestyle changes, but if these options are failing to provide enough pain relief, then shoulder replacement surgery may be a good option.

Normal shoulder without arthritis

Shoulder that has severe arthritis

Why have a shoulder replacement

Relief from Pain: Shoulder replacements are performed to alleviate chronic pain caused by arthritis, fractures, or other degenerative conditions affecting the shoulder joint.

Improved Functionality: The procedure aims to enhance the range of motion and functionality of the shoulder, allowing you to perform daily activities with greater ease.

Quality of Life: By reducing pain and improving shoulder function, a shoulder replacement can significantly enhance your overall quality of life.

What happens during the operation?

Preoperative Preparation:

Before the surgery, you will undergo a comprehensive evaluation by our perioperative physician, including medical history, physical examination, blood tests, ECT and imaging tests. A CT scan will performed to perform a 3D analysis of your shoulder to precisely prepare your shoulder replacement size and best placement.

The Surgery:

The surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made in front of your shoulder about 15 – 20 cm long to access the shoulder joint, remove the damaged portions, and replace them with artificial components. The procedure usually takes 2 hours and you’ll be closely monitored in the recovery room afterward.

Postoperative Care:

Recovery times vary, but physiotherapy is a crucial component of the rehabilitation process. You’ll work closely with a rehabilitation team to regain strength, flexibility, and functionality in your shoulder. The inpatient stay is usually 2 nights and your arm will be in a sling.

Your postoperative review appointment is 10-14 days after your surgery.

Reverse Shoulder Replacement

This video shows the structures around the shoulder and demonstrates how a reverse shoulder replacement is performed.

In Australia, 67% of total shoulder replacements are reverse.

Primary Shoulder Replacement

This video shows the structures around the shoulder and demonstrates how a primary shoulder replacement is performed.

In Australia, 27.6% of total shoulder replacements are primary shoulder replacements with a humeral stem.

The latest Precision Technology

The latest technology with preoperative CT planning and 3D modelling allows precision surgery and accurate placement of components. This leads to less complications and longer lasting replacements.