Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

(Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty)

At the Advanced Center for Orthopedics and Plastic Surgery, our orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jason Doppelt, specializes in reverse total shoulder replacement surgery (also known as reverse total shoulder arthroplasty). Dr. Doppelt is one of the only surgeons in the region that specializes in this type of procedure. That means your joint surgery will be performed by a surgeon whose experience is virtually unmatched in Marquette, the surrounding Upper Peninsula, and throughout Northern Michigan.

The shoulder is a “ball and socket” joint consisting of the upper arm bone (humerus) and a shallow indentation in the shoulder blade (scapula). It’s this shallowness that permits a great range of motion but also makes it easy to dislocate. As with any joint, the shoulder can become painful and its motion restricted through disease, trauma, or overuse. Though typically less common than total hip or knee replacement, total shoulder arthroplasty can be just as successful at relieving pain and restoring motion.

In a traditional total shoulder arthroplasty, the upper “ball” end of the humerus is replaced with a polished metal prosthesis and the “socket” surface in the scapula is replaced with surgical plastic. In some cases, however, such as in patients who have experienced large, irreparable rotator cuff tears, this approach is not beneficial. For those patients, a “reverse” version of the surgery is often indicated.

In a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty, the locations of the joint’s “ball” and “socket” are reversed, so that the socket of the joint is now placed at the upper end of the humerus and the ball is located in the scapula. This is done because this configuration requires different muscles to operate the joint. Whereas in a traditional shoulder joint, the rotator cuff powers the arm, when the joint is reversed, the deltoid muscle powers it instead. This permits the joint to operate smoothly, allowing the patient to resume daily activities with little or no pain after the surgery has fully healed, even though he or she has a weak or inoperable rotator cuff.

Total joint arthroplasty is a major surgical procedure that requires the patient to be under general anesthesia. This means you won’t be awake for your surgery and will therefore feel no pain. Because joint replacement surgery typically involves cutting through major muscles to access the joint, the patient typically has to undergo a recuperation process involving follow-up care and physical therapy that may last up to six weeks or more, depending on the joint involved and the patient’s particular situation.

To learn more about what to expect when you undergo reverse total shoulder replacement surgery, please visit our surgery prep and recovery page.

Specialty Reference: Shoulder & Elbow

Advanced Center for Orthopedics and Plastic Surgery