Hip and knee replacement surgery has gotten most of the attention in recent years. But total shoulder replacement is coming into its own. Maureen Salamon,HealthDayreporter, writes that Mayo Clinic researchers have found that 93% of arthritis patients who underwent a total shoulder replacement needed no further surgery on their joints a decade later. Both sides of these patients’ shoulder joints were replaced. For patients who had a partial shoulder replacement the success rate a decade later was 88%.
The study author, John Sperling M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the Rochester, Minnesota clinic published his findings in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. He told Salmon, “We were most happy to see the consistency of pain relief and improvement of function among patients. Shoulder replacement has come a long way over the past 20 to 25 years. It’s a one-hour surgery that requires one night in the hospital, and patients have a 90% chance of achieving excellent pain relief.”
The comparison between the numbers seeking knee and hip replacements and shoulder joint replacements is striking, given that all three joint surgeries are driven by the same problem—pain and a loss of function caused by rheumatoid arthritis. About 53,000 Americans underwent shoulder replacement surgery in 2011 compared to more than 900,000 who had hip or knee replacements.
Sperling said that the surgery calls for a 4 to 6 inch incision in the upper shoulder region to allow for the removal of the diseased joint and its replacement with a plastic or metal joint. He said that it is a one-hour surgery that requires only one night in the hospital.
Salamon quotes Anthony Romeo, M.D., a professor of orthopedics and director of shoulder and elbow surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who said that Sperling’s study provides “tremendous insight” into the results of shoulder replacement, a treatment that, he said, costs about $30,000.
“Shoulder replacement has really found its place on par with hip replacement and knee replacement,” Romeo said.” I hear very frequently of patients saying they’re nervous about having a shoulder replacement because they’ve either never heard of it or it’s so rare they’re wondering how it can be a good option. I try to reassure my patients that this operation is as effective as hip or knee replacement. Shoulder replacement has moved to become a very predictable, reliable operation.”