Navigate Up

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Thomas Hughes, MD

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 allow 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 Surgery

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

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 Your 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.

To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, and to learn if minimally invasive shoulder surgery is right for you, please call 1-877-471-0935.

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |