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How is a shoulder socket replacement performed?

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Quick Answer

Doctors perform total shoulder joint replacement surgery by removing damaged joint surfaces and replacing them with a plastic pocket and a metal ball connected to a stem, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, or AAOS. Stemmed hemiarthroplasty involves replacing only the head of the humerus, while resurfacing hemiarthroplasty requires using a stemless prosthesis to replace the humeral head's joint surface.

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Full Answer

During reverse total shoulder replacement, the doctor switches the socket and metal ball by attaching a metal ball to the shoulder bone and connecting a plastic socket to the upper arm bone, states the AAOS. This surgery enables a patient to lift the affected arm using his deltoid muscle rather than the damaged rotator cuff, leading to improved arm function.

Doctors use a noncemented humeral component for total shoulder replacement if the patient's bone is firm, while they use bone cement along with the humeral component for soft bone, notes the AAOS. For a seriously fractured humeral head with a normal socket, hemiarthroplasty is an ideal surgical procedure.

Resurfacing hemiarthroplasty is a good alternative to the traditional stemmed hemiarthroplasty for patients with shoulder arthritis, reports the AAOS. Unlike the typical total shoulder replacement surgery, resurfacing hemiarthroplasty does not pose the risks of wear and tear or loosening of components over time in young or very active patients.

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