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May 16, 2007

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Shoulder arthritis is an affliction affecting millions of Americans. Frequently we hear about knee replacement, hip replacement. More rarely is it suggested that patients undergo shoulder replacement. Primarily there is a lack of expertise that causes this. Also it has been cited that shoulder surgery has more risk. A recent study by the Johns Hopkins Department of Orthopedics led by Doctor Edward McFarland, MD, director of the division of adult orthopedics at Johns Hopkins Hospital analyzed a series of hip replacement versus knee replacement versus shoulder replacement procedure. After looking at how the patients fair, researchers concluded that comparatively total shoulder replacement was just as safe and effective as other types of joint replacement.

According to a nationwide 2003 Medicare figure, 6700 people had shoulder joints replaced that year compared with 107,000 hip replacements and nearly 200,000 knee replacements. It is interesting that patients in the study who had shoulder surgery, had far fewer in hospital post-surgical complications compared to those who had their hips and knees replaced. This includes a risk of death. Additionally, despite the fewer numbers, the shoulder replacement surgery also called arthroplasty was also less expensive according to the researcher. Shoulder replacements total cost on average were just over $10,000 where hip replacement was $15,000 and knee replacement was nearly $15,000.

The conclusion of this article is that shoulder replacement surgery should be performed more frequently noting that 99% of people who have had shoulder replacement for arthritis get pain relief and say they wish they had done it sooner. The study indicates there may be little reason to wait.


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