Revision Total Shoulder Replacement

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Issued November 2017

Expires end of December 2018

This document will give you information about a revision total shoulder replacement. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a revision total shoulder replacement?

A revision total shoulder replacement is an operation to take out your old shoulder replacement and put in a new one (see figure 1).

A shoulder replacement can fail for the following reasons.

  • Wearing out of the artificial joint.
  • Infection in your shoulder replacement.
  • Dislocation.
  • Fracture around your shoulder replacement.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should be able to move your shoulder more comfortably and do more of your normal activities.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Surgery is the only treatment for a shoulder replacement that is failing.

If you have an infection, antibiotics can sometimes prevent your shoulder replacement from failing.

If your shoulder replacement keeps coming out of joint, you can wear a brace.

If you have a fracture, you can sometimes be treated with traction.

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the front of your shoulder. They will remove your shoulder replacement and any cement.

Your surgeon will put in a new shoulder replacement. This is fixed into the bone using acrylic cement.

The type of surgery you need can be more complicated if the bone is thin or broken, or if you have an infection.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Chest infection
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

2 Specific complications

  • Damage to nerves around your shoulder
  • Infection
  • Loosening
  • Rotator-cuff tears
  • Dislocation
  • Stiff shoulder

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after two to three days.

You will need to keep your arm in a sling to keep the tension away from your shoulder joint.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

A revision total shoulder replacement can fail with time.


If your original shoulder replacement fails, you can usually have another operation to do your shoulder replacement again. If this revision operation is successful, you should be able to continue many of your normal activities.


Author: Prof Lennard Funk MSc FRCS (Tr. & Orth.)

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright ©

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.