Shoulder Replacement

Total shoulder replacement surgery replaces your shoulder's damaged bone and cartilage with a metal and plastic implant. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, much like the hip joint. The ball is the top of the arm bone, or humerus, and the socket is within the shoulder blade, or scapula. During shoulder replacement surgery, the ball is removed from the top of the humerus and replaced with a metal implant. This is shaped like a half-moon and attached to a stem inserted to the center of the arm bone. The socket portion of the joint is then replaced with a plastic socket that is cemented into the scapula.

The procedure takes approximately two hours, however the preparation before the operation and the recovery after may take several hours. Patients often spend two hours in the recovery room and two to three days in the hospital after surgery.

You will be admitted to the hospital on the day of your scheduled surgery. You will be asked to arrive two hours before the start of your surgery. Once you are admitted, you will be evaluated by an anesthesiologist. The most common type of anesthesia is regional anesthesia where your arm will be numbed by placing anesthetic medicine to your neck before the start of the operation. Supplementary anesthesia will then be given through an intravenous (IV) drip that keeps you asleep for the entire surgery. You will discuss this with your anesthesiologist prior to your surgery.

Advanced Surgical Techniques

Total shoulder replacement can be a very successful operation, like hip and knee replacement surgeries. However, it is a difficult operation and the surgeon should be well-trained to perform it. At UCSF, we are investigating the possibility of image-guided surgeries to better identify the anatomy and bone structures of each shoulder so that we can improve the outcome of shoulder replacement surgery. We are investigating the possibility of doing the surgery with smaller and less traumatic approaches so that the rehabilitation can be quicker and less painful.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Sports Medicine Center
1500 Owens St.
San Francisco, CA 94158
Appointments: (415) 353–2808
Main: (415) 353–9400
Fax: (415) 885–3862

Our Experts

Christina Allen
Dr. Christina Allen,
orthopedic surgeon
Brian Feeley
Dr. Brian Feeley,
orthopedic surgeon
Anthony Luke
Dr. Anthony Luke,
primary care sports medicine specialist
C. Benjamin Ma
Dr. C. Benjamin Ma,
orthopedic surgeon