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Revision total shoulder replacement

5-minute read

What is a revision total shoulder replacement?

A revision total shoulder replacement is an operation to take out your old shoulder replacement and put in a new one.

A shoulder replacement can fail for the following reasons.

  • wearing out of the artificial joint
  • infection in your shoulder replacement
  • dislocation (coming out of joint)
  • fracture (break) around your shoulder replacement

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should be able to move your shoulder more comfortably and do more of your normal activities.

Illustration of a total shoulder replacement.
A total shoulder replacement.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Surgery is the only treatment for a shoulder replacement that is failing.

If you have an infection in your shoulder replacement, using antibiotics over the long term can sometimes prevent your shoulder replacement from failing.

If your shoulder replacement keeps coming out of joint, you can wear a brace to try to keep your shoulder in place.

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the front of your shoulder.

If the joint surfaces have become worn or your shoulder replacement itself is coming loose, your surgeon will usually remove your shoulder replacement and any cement.

Your surgeon will put in a new shoulder replacement.

The type of surgery you need can be more complicated if the bone is thin or broken, or if you have an infection.

How can I prepare myself for the operation?

If you smoke, stopping smoking now may reduce your risk of developing complications and will improve your long-term health.

Try to maintain a healthy weight. You have a higher risk of developing complications if you are overweight.

Regular exercise should help to prepare you for the operation, help you to recover and improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Speak to the healthcare team about any vaccinations you might need to reduce your risk of serious illness while you recover. When you come into hospital, practise hand washing and wear a face covering when asked.

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

  • bleeding
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication
  • venous thromboembolism
  • chest infection
  • heart attack
  • stroke

Specific complications of this operation

  • damage to nerves around your shoulder
  • infection
  • loosening
  • rotator-cuff tears
  • dislocation of your shoulder replacement
  • stiff shoulder
  • failure of the revision total shoulder replacement

Consequences of this procedure

  • pain
  • unsightly scarring of your skin

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after 2 to 3 days.

You will need to keep your arm in a sling to keep the tension away from your shoulder joint.

It often takes longer to recover from a revision shoulder replacement than your first shoulder replacement.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most people make a good recovery and most revision total shoulder replacements work well.

A revision total shoulder replacement can fail with time if it wears out or the original problem comes back.


If your original shoulder replacement fails, you can usually have another operation to do your shoulder replacement again. If this revision operation is successful, you should be able to continue many of your normal activities.


The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright ©

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Last reviewed: September 2023

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