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How is a full shoulder replacement performed?

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Quick Answer

Shoulder replacement surgery is performed by replacing the end of the arm bone and usually the shoulder bone with artificial components, explains WebMD. Sometimes these bones are resurfaced instead of replaced. As of 2015, a new procedure called a reverse total replacement is available for some patients.

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How is a full shoulder replacement performed?
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Full Answer

A shoulder replacement procedure involves removing damaged bone from the end of the arm bone and replacing it with plastic or a combination of metal and plastic, says WebMD. If the shoulder bone is also worn down, it is smoothed over and covered with a synthetic component. Artificial components that replace damaged bone are cemented into place, or made of material held in place by new bone that grows into them. People with arthritis and damage to the shoulder muscles may be candidates for a reverse total replacement, in which part of the shoulder bone is used to replace the end of the arm bone. Shoulder replacement surgery is normally performed using general anesthesia, but it can also be done with regional anesthesia, leaving the patient conscious.

Infections can cause serious problems, so doctors may prescribe antibiotics before and after surgery, notes WebMD. Medicines to control pain and prevent blood clots may be administered after surgery. A drain to keep fluid from building up is commonly used, and a compression sleeve on the arm may be used to keep blood clots from forming.

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