The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place and allow you to move your arm and shoulder. Problems with the rotator cuff may cause weakness or pain and restrict movement. It may also cause damage to the shoulder joint.
Often, tendons can be repaired. However, if the tendons are severely damaged, an operation called reverse shoulder replacement may be a better way to improve the joint’s function and reduce pain, especially if the joint is affected by arthritis.
This operation is also called reverse arthroplasty. “Arthro” means joint; “plasty” means to mold surgically.
The top of the arm bone fits into a socket on the shoulder blade. In a typical shoulder replacement, a plastic lining is attached to the socket to allow smooth movement. The surgeon removes the top of the arm bone and inserts a metal stem with a ball on the end. However, if the rotator cuff is severely damaged, the joint may not be stable or work properly.
In a reverse shoulder replacement, the normal ball-and-socket structure is reversed. An artificial ball is attached to the shoulder blade. An artificial socket is attached to the top of the arm bone. The large deltoid muscle that covers the shoulder is typically able to move the arm.
General anesthesia will be given so you will sleep through the surgery.
An incision or cut is made in the front of the arm and shoulder. The surgeon separates muscles and cuts through tissue to expose the joint.
The upper arm bone is removed from the socket. The top of the arm bone is cut off and prepared to receive an artificial part. The socket is also prepared. A plate is screwed to the socket and a half-sphere attached. The metal stem is inserted in the arm bone, and a plastic socket is attached to the top.
The new socket is fitted against the new ball to allow smooth movement. The tissue is sewn together around the joint, and the incision is closed.