Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

Have you ever heard of someone having their arm actually amputated after a shoulder replacement?

Answer:

In very rare instances, infection can develop and become so chronic and virulent (strong) that it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Amputation of the arm may be the only thing that can save the patient's life. Most of the time, intravenous antibiotics and surgery to debride (clean out) the joint is successful in addressing acute and/or chronic infections. Infection can destroy the shoulder implant so in extreme cases, once the infection is cleared up, the original implant may have to be removed and replaced. If there has been too much bone loss or destruction, arthrodesis (fusion) may be necessary. All of these procedures are done in an effort to save the joint and save the limb. Amputation is the last step when all else has failed and the person's life is at risk. Again, this is a very rare occurrence and one that is taken very seriously. Joseph A. Abboud, MD, et al. Soft-Tissue Management in Revision Total Shoulder Arthroplasty. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. January 2013. Vol. 21. No. 1. Pp. 23-31.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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