My mother had a shoulder replacement that ended up a dismal failure. She fell and broke her arm, developed an infection, and that was the end of the new shoulder. Now they are talking about removing the implant and starting over. Can they really do this?
With any surgical procedure (such as the shoulder joint replacement), there can be problems. The most common situation is shoulder replacement surgery that fails due to fracture or bone loss. Treatment options are limited. But surgeons are looking for ways to change that.
One of the ways to approach this problem is with a reverse shoulder prosthesis. A reverse shoulder implant places a glenosphere (round ball component) where the shoulder socket used to be and a cup-shaped implant at the top of the humerus (upper arm bone).
The surgeon does have to remove the first prosthesis (implant) in order to put the reverse prosthesis in place. Removing the original implant can take quite a bit of bone with it. This is especially true when the implant was cemented in place and/or the bone has grown in and around the implant as designed. But it's a good way to save the joint and restore more normal shoulder motion and movement.
Your mother's surgeon may have some other procedure in mind for her. You'll have to check with him or her to find out what's the best approach to take. The majority of patients who have to undergo revision surgery after a shoulder replacement report good-to-excellent results and satisfaction with pain relief and improved motion and function. Hopefully, your mother will have the same positive results.
Ariel Chacon, MD, et al. Revision Arthroplasty with Use of a Reverse Shoulder Prosthesis-Allograft Composite. In The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. January 2009. Vol. 91A. No. 1. Pp. 119-127.
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