If you experience shoulder pain while performing simple and routine daily activities, or have trouble sleeping through the night because of this pain, minimally invasive shoulder surgery (also known as arthroplasty) should be considered as a viable and practical option to help restore function and return to everyday life.
Patients should consider shoulder replacement surgery when all other non-surgical treatments have been exhausted, and when limited function begins to impact daily activities. Particularly, individuals with severe arthritis and rotator cuff dysfunction will often experience significant limits to their shoulder strength and range of motion. This is when surgery becomes a realistic and attractive option.
Types of Shoulder Surgery
According to shoulder surgeon, Thomas Hughes, MD, there are three main types of minimally invasive shoulder replacement surgery:
- Hemi-arthroplasty for fractures. This procedure replaces the arm bone or the ball.
- Total shoulder arthroplasty for arthritis. Replaces both the arm bone and the shoulder socket.
- Reverse shoulder arthroplasty for large rotator cuff tears that cannot be repaired. This type of surgery replaces the ball with a socket and the socket with a ball.
Managing Blood Loss during Shoulder Replacement Surgeries
There are several strategies used to minimize blood loss and eliminate the need for transfusions during shoulder replacement surgery. Initially, patients are evaluated for anemia so steps can be taken before surgery to correct their low blood count. If there are exceptional concerns about blood loss for a particular case, medications can be given before the operation to elevate the blood count. Other techniques can be used to dilute the blood at the time of surgery so that each drop of blood lost contains fewer red blood cells.
During the procedure, the surgeon will pay meticulous attention to ensure bleeding is controlled, however, blood loss associated with shoulder replacement surgery is typically not significant enough to warrant use all of these techniques. But for patients who decline or are unable to receive transfusions, these safeguards allow surgery to remain a feasible option.
Evaluating Shoulder Surgery Options
As with any surgical procedure, it’s important to research all your options and with the help of your physician, come to an informed conclusion about how you can help alleviate your shoulder pain and get back to work, home, or play. Minimally invasive shoulder arthroplasty may help accomplish these goals while preventing significant blood loss.