What Is Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement?

Photo: Shoulder

Total shoulder replacement can help patients effectively address arthritis of the shoulder. However, this treatment is not necessarily ideal for an individual who has arthritis as well as rotator cuff tears. In a total shoulder replacement, the substitute parts mimic the natural anatomy of the shoulder joint. In the event of a rotator cuff tear, though, the affected muscles will be too weak to power the shoulder—just as they would if arthritis hadn’t developed. In this instance, a reverse total shoulder replacement is performed, often with a much-improved outcome.

In reverse total shoulder replacement surgery, the ball and socket replacement appliances are switched. For instance, in a traditional shoulder replacement, the end of the upper arm (humerus) is replaced with a metal ball, and the socket on the shoulder blade (scapula) is replaced with a cup. In a reverse total shoulder replacement, the end of the humerus is replaced with a cup and the socket is fitted with a ball. As a result, different, uncompromised muscles power the arm. Dr. Tuvi Mendel, our board certified orthopaedic surgeon, utilizes an advanced implant device from Exactech® called the Equinoxe Reverse System for this procedure. He has seen excellent results, and he can help you determine if this technique is right for you.