Reverse Shoulder Replacement

Every year, thousands of shoulder replacements are performed in the United States to help alleviate pain and restore arm and muscle function. Some patients may have shoulder replacement surgery because they are suffering from severe arthritis in combination with a tear in their rotator cuff, the group of four tendons that attach the four shoulder muscles to the upper arm.

For patients who have arthritis with an intact rotator cuff or a small reparable rotator cuff tear, the standard shoulder replacement surgery works well, but for patients with severe shoulder arthritis, who have rotator cuffs torn beyond repair, the standard surgery isn’t always beneficial. A major portion of the rotator cuff is needed to function properly with a standard replacement. With a massive rotator cuff tear, this is not possible - there is nearly complete loss of the function of the rotator cuff."

However, these patients now have a new option for shoulder replacement surgery. This procedure, called reverse total shoulder replacement, makes better use of the large triangular deltoid muscle covering the shoulder joint and the new technology was specifically designed for use in patients with non-functional rotator cuffs and arthritis, but who still have a good, functioning deltoid muscle.

Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty is a unique surgical solution for patients with pain and dysfunction from advanced glenohumeral joint arthritis associated with severe rotator cuff deficiency. In the normal shoulder, the rotator cuff and deltoid muscles work together to elevate the arm. However, with massive rotator cuff tears and advanced degenerative joint disease, the normal mechanics of the shoulder are disrupted, making arm elevation difficult if not impossible. The reverse shoulder prosthesis corrects this by providing a fixed fulcrum for the shoulder joint that allows the patient to use the deltoid muscle instead of the torn rotator cuff to lift the arm.