Like all joints in the body, the shoulder is formed by 2 bones, the cup (glenoid) and ball (humerus). The surfaces of the ends of these bones is covered a smooth, pearly white layer of cartilage that acts as both a shock absorber and helps the 2 bones glide smoothly over one another. As the shoulder joint ages, the cartilage can become damaged or worn down, leading to osteoarthritis of the joint. The cartilage surface may become rough and irregular, or may wear completely down to the bone. This usually leads to the development of pain and bone spurs as the body tries to compensate for the loss of cartilage. Additionally, the loss of joint space can change how the shoulder functions and force other muscles to compensate for the altered joint kinematics. Unfortunately, the body only produces a finite number of cartilage-producing cells, and even the most recent advances in medicine have yet to find efficient mechanisms for regrowing the lost cartilage. In cases of advanced wear, a shoulder replacement can greatly reduce symptoms.
One very viable option to restore normal joint mechanics and relieve pain is a shoulder replacement or total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA). When performed properly, a TSA can relieve pain by removing the arthritic joint surfaces while also returning the bones of your shoulder to their normal anatomic position. A perfect shoulder replacement is very difficult to obtain since every shoulder is different and requires different components.
To optimize results, we utilize highly specific imaging in the form of a specialized CT scan designed to give the most detailed image of your shoulder anatomy in regards to arthritic changes. These images can then be uploaded to a specialized computer program that allows digital implantation of a vast array of different components. This allows every TSA to be specifically tailored to each patient and ensures a fully functioning, pain free shoulder.
Prior to surgery, patients will be sent for their CT scan and any pre-admission testing that may be required. Patients usually stay overnight, but if your shoulder replacement is done early in the morning you may be able to return home the same evening. For the operation, an incision is made from just above your armpit to a few inches down your arm. During surgery, the top part of the humerus is cut off and a specialized implant is fitted for your shoulder. Then, the glenoid is careful reamed down to a uniform surface before a cutting-edge polyethylene cup is implanted into several small holes drilled in the bone.
The components used in each arthroplasty at the Shoulder and Elbow Center are hand-selected by Dr. Edwin Spencer. Not only has Dr. Spencer performed over 2000 shoulder arthroplasties, he has designed many of the components that he uses, including a revolutionary stemless humeral implant as well as a specialized cup designed to reduce specific wear patterns seen in males (known as a Posterior Augmented Glenoid or PAG). While many surgeons may use an entire set of components from the same manufacturer, Dr. Spencer combines over 15 years of experience with the latest advancements in CT imaging and computer-aided design software to determine the best combination of components that will provide the best long-term results, leaving patients with a pain-free, well functioning shoulder for years to come. For a full video of an anatomic shoulder replacement using the Simpliciti Shoulder System or the new DJO EDGE System, both designed by Dr. Edwin Spencer, see one of the videos below.
***WARNING- THESE ARE SURGICAL VIDEOS THAT INCLUDE DISSECTION AND EXPOSURE OF REAL PATIENTS’ SHOULDER JOINTS. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***