Picture: A shoulder 
Shoulder replacement surgery
seems to be relatively safe
© Picture Disk

In fact, the Johns Hopkins researchers say, their study shows that patients who undergo shoulder arthroplasty to relieve chronic and significant pain can expect significantly fewer complications, much shorter hospital stays and less costs than patients undergoing hip or knee replacement.

“After looking at how all these patients fared, we concluded that, comparatively, total shoulder surgery is just as safe and effective as other types of arthroplasties,” says Edward McFarland, M.D., director of the Division of Adult Orthopedics at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. According to nationwide 2003 Medicare figures, 6,700 people had shoulder joints replaced that year, compared to 106,887 hip replacements and 199,195 total knee replacements.

Shoulder arthroplasty consists of placement of a metal and plastic artificial joint similar to the ball-and-socket construction used to substitute for hip and knee joints. The socket, or scapula, is scraped clean and fitted with a plastic mount, while the ball at the top of the humerus bone in the arm is replaced with a metal implant.

Patients in the study who had shoulder surgery had far less in-hospital post-surgical complications (7.5 percent) compared with those patients who had their hips and knees replaced (15.5 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively). McFarland’s team also determined that the average time a person remained hospitalized after the surgery was lowest for those recovering from shoulder procedures (just 2.42 days for shoulder patients, versus more than four days for both the hip and knee equivalents).

Shoulder arthroplasty is also less expensive, according to McFarland. A shoulder replacement’s total costs, on average, are $10, 351; whereas hip replacement surgery averages $15, 442, and knee arthroplasty, $14, 674.

MEDICA.de; Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions