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Shoulder hemiarthroplasty, also called partial shoulder replacement, is a surgical procedure during which the upper bone in the arm (humerus) is replaced with a prosthetic metal implant, and the other half of the shoulder joint (glenoid or socket) is left intact.


Shoulder hemiarthroplasty is indicated in severe, persistent conditions of shoulder osteoarthritis in which only the humeral head or ball of the joint is damaged. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition in which the cartilage that allows smooth movement in the joints wears away causing the adjacent bone to rub against each other resulting in pain and stiffness. In such conditions, replacement of the damaged portion of the humerus will reduce the friction as bone ends can no longer come in contact, thus relieving the pain.

Surgery remains the sole treatment option when all possible conservative means of treatment such as rest, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy have been ineffective in resolving your symptoms.

Surgical procedure

Hemi arthroplasty is a highly technical procedure. There are two types of hemiarthroplasties– stemmed hemi arthroplasty and resurfacing hemi arthroplasty. The surgeon will determine the type of procedure based on the nature of the injury and the condition of the shoulder.

Stemmed hemi arthroplasty

This is the traditional method of hemi arthroplasty in which any one of the articular surfaces may be replaced by the prosthesis. Generally the head of the humerus is replaced with a metal ball and stem. The other indications for this procedure include arthritis of the head of humerus with an intact cartilage and glenoid cavity or a severe rotator cuff injury.

Resurfacing hemi arthroplasty

In resurfacing hemi arthroplasty surgery only the articular surface is replaced by the prosthesis, ie, the articular surface of the humeral head is replaced by a cap like prosthesis without a stem. Resurfacing hemi arthroplasty is considered in the presence of an intact articular cartilage surface without any fracture of the humeral neck or head.


While the procedure may relieve your pain and other symptoms, there may also be associated risks and complications as with any major surgery. Potential risks and complications that may occur, following shoulder hemiarthroplasty, include infection, instability, fracture of the humerus or scapula, shoulder stiffness, and damage to the blood vessels and nerves.

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Dr.James Macielak
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