Advanced surgical techniques and implants help improve shoulder arthroplasty outcomes in young adults

Widespread interest in sports involving the shoulder (golf, weightlifting, throwing sports) brings relatively young patients with shoulder arthritis to seek pain relief and long-lasting improved function. Managing this common problem, however, presents a dilemma.

Often, shoulder arthroplasty truly is the only reliable option for these patients. However, fear of implant loosening and the possible need for surgical revision has traditionally led to the avoidance of replacement in patients under 65 years old. As a high-volume center with expertise in the most recent advances of shoulder replacement surgery, Mayo Clinic Department of Orthopedic Surgery has shoulder specialists who have both the experience and outcome data to suggest otherwise.

Results from Mayo Clinic's orthopedic shoulder specialty team indicate that carefully selected younger shoulder arthritis patients may, in fact, benefit from total shoulder arthroplasty.

This is especially true when there is adequate glenoid bone stock and healthy soft tissue, such as a functioning rotator cuff, to help prevent malalignment of the glenoid component implant or imbalance or both. The Mayo team has been actively involved in the design of new implants and in their rigorous evaluation, and found that a well-done total shoulder arthroplasty in carefully selected younger patients is typically successful — and often preferable in the long term to a hemiarthroplasty or partial replacement procedure.

Mayo Clinic's experience is different, principally because of the surgical team's broad and deep experience in performing all forms of shoulder arthroplasty, and in conducting research on the topic. The team has made it a priority to innovate in the area of total shoulder arthroplasty for this patient population by selecting the least bone-invasive implant possible, saving bone for possible future revision surgery if needed.