Advancements in Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Whenever you hear someone say they are going to have shoulder replacement surgery, your immediate reaction is to think there will be pain and months and months of rehabilitation.

But that is no longer true thanks to a new procedure practiced by Dr. John W. Uribe, a Baptist Health Medical Group orthopedic surgeon at Doctors Hospital who specializes in sports medicine, arthroscopic surgery and minimally-invasive surgical procedures for degenerative conditions of the knee and shoulder.

“Shoulder replacement should be considered for individuals who have lost the cartilage in their shoulder joints and the bones are just bone-on-bone, producing considerable pain and loss of motion, says Dr. Uribe. “When traditional forms of therapy do not work, such as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy, surgery is recommended.”

First performed in the 1950s to treat shoulder fractures, shoulder replacement is now widely used to treat other painful shoulder conditions such as several forms of arthritis. Much less common than knee and hip replacement, shoulder replacement surgery is performed on approximately 53,000 people in the U.S. each year, according the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

With traditional total shoulder replacement surgery, the ball of the joint is removed, a rod is inserted into the shaft, and then a metal ball is attached to it. The socket is then covered with a plastic shield.

“The problem with traditional surgery is that it is fairly invasive, requiring hospitalization and occasionally there may be significant loss of blood,” says Dr. Uribe, “The new procedure is unique in that the ball is preserved and resurfaced, restoring the normal anatomy of the joint. Loosening of the socket cover is the most common complication in shoulder replacement surgery, occurring in as much as 20 percent of cases. In this procedure, the plastic surface is inlaid into the socket, making it less prone to loosening as well as more anatomically correct. On the socket side, the implant is inserted into the socket as opposed to on top of the socket which significantly reduces of possibility of loosening as well.”

There are many benefits to the new procedure and it is extremely gratifying for patients and physicians alike, according to Dr. Uribe, who has performed more than 62 of these surgeries in the past two and a half years.

“The procedure is approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), it is far less invasive and patients can go home the same day,” Dr. Uribe said, “Prosthetic complications are minimized and the rehabilitation can start fairly quickly. Restoration of motion and strength is achieved with more reliability and with less pain.”

The exact cause of arthritis, which can lead to shoulder conditions requiring replacement surgery, is not really known but it carries a genetic predisposition and usually affects the elderly (ages 50 and older) more than young people. Body builders or individuals, who lift significant amounts of weight on a regular basis, are more prone to be affected because the compression can cause damage to the shoulder joint.

“Total shoulder resurfacing is a good option for those individuals with painful arthritis – it is much less invasive and the shoulder can be brought back to an activity level that is comfortable,” says Dr. Uribe. “One very exciting result of this surgery is that it doesn’t burn any bridges – you can always go back and do the traditional replacement surgery if it doesn’t work.”

Uribe_lc-214x300About John Uribe, M.D.
John Uribe, M.D., is a Board-certified orthopedic surgeon in Miami, Florida, specializing in sports medicine, arthroscopic surgery and minimally invasive surgical procedures for degenerative conditions of the knee, shoulder and elbow. Dr. Uribe is the team physician for the Miami Dolphins football team and Florida Panthers hockey team, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools high school athletic program. He was recently appointed chairman of the Department of Orthopedics at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, Dr. Uribe also served as chief of orthopedics at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, HI. His research interests include minimally invasive resurfacing techniques of the knee and shoulder, as well as ligament and tendon restoration. A member of multiple professional organizations and societies, he is well-published and lectures extensively in the U.S. and abroad.

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