What Is a Reverse Shoulder Replacement?

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement for Patients Without Rotator Cuff

What Is a Reverse Shoulder Replacement?

A reverse shoulder replacement, also referred to as a reverse total shoulder replacement, is a surgical option for patients who would not be helped by a standard total shoulder replacement because they have rotator cuff damage along with shoulder osteoarthritis.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. In a normal shoulder, the humerus (upper arm bone) ends in a ball shape.

The ball fits into a socket formed by the scapula (shoulder blade). The ball and socket form the shoulder joint.

With the reverse shoulder replacement, the implant is designed so the ball is attached to the scapula -- and the socket is at the upper end of the humerus.

The reverse shoulder procedure was approved by the FDA in November 2004.

Who Is and Is Not a Candidate for Reverse Shoulder Replacement?

A reverse shoulder replacement may be a good treatment option for patients with rotator cuff tear arthropathy combined with arthritis. Also, reverse shoulder replacement is a good option for patients without a rotator cuff. Lastly, the reverse shoulder replacement may be a good choice as a revision for failed shoulder replacements or shoulder fractures.

Older patients who have significant pain on a daily basis and little to no range of motion in their shoulder joint are the best candidates for reverse shoulder surgery.

If you have an infection, inadequate scapula, or lack deltoid muscles -- the reverse shoulder replacement is not for you. Typically, reverse shoulder replacement is not recommended for younger patients.

The Benefits of Reverse Shoulder Replacement?

The expected outcome of a reverse shoulder replacement includes:

  • improved range of motion
  • improved function (ability to perform daily activities)
  • significant shoulder pain relief
  • increased shoulder stability

Recovering from Reverse Shoulder Replacement

The reverse shoulder procedure typically takes 3 hours to perform. The required hospital stay is about 2 days, followed by about 3 months of outpatient physical therapy.


Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery. University of Maryland Medical Center. March 16, 2009.

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