Question:My father-in-law is going to have a shoulder replacement. He's young enough (66-years old), but the family is concerned because he has diabetes and a previous history of cancer. Is he really a good candidate for this operation?
Answer:With the continued aging of America, the number of major joint replacements is on the rise. Although hip and knee replacements are the most common, the demand for shoulder replacement surgery is also increasing. Studies have been done to compare the results of these three operations. Data is taken from hospital records. Length of stay, complications (even death rates), and costs are measured and reported. Age over 65, overall health, and male gender are risk factors for increased problems after joint replacement surgery. But this doesn't mean that if your father-in-law is in this category, he is destined to have problems. Many people have good outcomes with improved function, decreased pain, and better quality of life.
Shoulder replacement surgery tends to have fewer complications associated with it compared with hip and knee replacements. Length of stay is also shorter. These two factors translate into cost savings, too.
As more and more joint replacement surgeries are done, further information will be gleaned and reported to help patients make decisions about whether or not to have this operation and the best timing for the best results.Kevin W. Farmer, MD, et al. Shoulder Arthroplasty versus Hip and Knee Arthroplasties. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. February 2007. No. 455. Pp. 183-189.
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