What are the complications of shoulder replacement surgery?

Most of the shoulder replacement surgeries have only success stories to say.  But even if the surgeries are done successfully, complications can occur afterwards. In some cases, these complications can be life threatening also. In a very low percentage of shoulder surgery cases a revision surgery would become necessary. Let us examine the complications one be one.

Learn about shoulder surgery

Major shoulder replacement surgeries are performed under general anesthesia.  They are generally found to have low risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots pneumonia etc.  Deep vein thrombosis which is blood clots in the veins is probable in the case of shoulder replacement surgery.  But this is more prevalent in the lower extremity replacements compared to the upper extremity replacements.  If left untreated it can lead to pulmonary embolism which is a life threatening situation which involves breaking of the blood clot from the wall of the vein.


Despite the administration of antibiotics, every surgery has inborn risk of infection. Some superficial wounds as well as deep wounds formed during the surgery can lead to infections.  Most of these conditions can be treated well with antibiotics. But in rare cases the infection can becomes so serious and life threatening that it becomes necessary to remove the artificial shoulder joint provided.  After the infection is resolved if necessary a new prostheses can again be fitted in a second surgery.

Rotor cuff damage

There is more possibility for the rotor cuff muscles to get injured after the shoulder surgery. The following steps are usually taken to reduce the risk related to rotor cuff.

  • The surgeon will examine the rotor cuff in detail to ascertain the damages, if any, which can get worsened after the surgery.
  • During surgery special care will be taken to minimize the possibility of the tissue damage.
  • After the surgery the patient is instructed how and when to keep the shoulder in rest position. He will also be taught what the safe movements are and what movements can pose a risk.

Misalignment of the prosthesis

The shoulder surgery done in orthopedic clinic mclean va is a complicated procedure as the prostheses has to be perfectly positioned inside the shoulder without causing any misalignment and without cut shorting any of the functionality of the joint.  If the prosthesis is not securely fitted into the native bone it can lead to misalignment which necessitating revision surgery or completed abandoning of the present surgery and going for a second surgery after the wounds are completely cured and the body health is regained.

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