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Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

During shoulder replacement surgery, all or part of your problem shoulder is replaced with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis. The prosthesis replaces the rough, worn parts of your shoulder with smooth metal and plastic parts.

Parts of an artificial shoulder. Plastic socket replaces shoulder socket. Metal ball replaces head of arm bone. Metal stem is attached to ball and fits in arm bone.
With a total replacement, both the ball and socket are replaced.

Before Your Surgery

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

  • You should stop eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery.

  • If you take a daily medication, ask 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 surgery.

The Surgical Procedure

When the surgical team is ready, you’ll be taken to the operating room. There you’ll be given anesthesia to help you sleep through 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 surgeon closes the incision with surgical staples or sutures (stitches).

When to Call Your Doctor

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)

After Your Surgery

After surgery, you’ll be sent to the PACU (postanesthesia care unit). When you are fully awake, you’ll be moved to your room. The nurses will give you medications to ease your pain. Soon, health care providers will help you get up and moving. You may also have physical therapy after surgery.

You may need to wear an arm sling for 2 to 4 weeks.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 7/16/2013
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