Shoulder replacements have been highly successful for years. Many people who have suffered from shoulder pain and arthritis have experienced relief and restored motion through total shoulder replacement. And because new materials and procedures are always being developed, the results continue to get better. The complication rate following total shoulder replacement is low. Serious complications, such as shoulder-joint infection, occur in fewer than 1.9% of patients.1 Major medical complications, such as heart attack or stroke, occur even less frequently. (Of course, chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications.)
Every surgical procedure has some risks and benefits. Your individual results will depend on your personal circumstances, and recovery takes time. While there can be no guarantee of success, benefits can include pain relief and return of normal use of the shoulder.
Each of the following reactions or complications can occur during and after surgery and may require medical attention (such as further surgery) and implant removal:
Infection is a risk with any surgical procedure. According to a recent study, less than 1.9% of patients get an infection in the first two years.1 When infection occurs after total shoulder replacement, it is most commonly caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream during dental procedures or from urinary tract, skin, or fingernail infections. Although uncommon, when these complications occur, they can delay full recovery.
For the first two years after your shoulder replacement, you must take preventive antibiotics before dental or surgical procedures that could allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Generally, talk to your orthopedist and your dentist to see if you still need preventive antibiotics before other procedures.
The bone next to the shoulder implant may break down (called osteolysis) because of your body's reaction to particles that may be caused by:
Implant fracture has been reported following total shoulder replacement. This is typically caused by:
To minimize the possibility for implant fracture, it is important to follow medical instructions and to avoid excessive or inappropriate activity.
Given the risks, your doctor may decide that shoulder replacement surgery is not appropriate if among others: