Why do you need to replace my shoulder? Why not just FIX it?
Hemiarthroplasty is performed when you have a severe fracture of the ball portion of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint. It is usually reserved for situations in which it is technically not possible to repair a fracture. In order to repair a fracture of the shoulder reliably you must have a few things working in your favor:
- an intact joint surface
- good blood supply to the bone and
- good quality bone.
When one or more of these factors is not absent then fixing a fracture of this type becomes more difficult. And fixing such a fracture may increase the risk of having a complication such as failure to heal, healing in poor alignment, or bone death.
As surgeons we try to reserve this procedure for older patients as it entails some of the same long-term risks as shoulder replacement (see question 2). It is also more common in older patients, as they tend to have poorer quality bone.
Will you replace my entire shoulder?
No. Only the ball portion of the ball-and-socket will be replaced unless you had severe arthritis prior to the fracture (rare).