Shoulder Replacement Surgery

How Does Your
Shoulder Work?

The shoulder is comprised of three main bones: the collarbone (clavicle), the shoulder blade (scapula) and the upper arm bone (humerus). The glenoid (part of the scapula) and humeral head (part of the humerus) are normally the parts of the shoulder that have to be replaced because they rub together when you move your arm.

In a healthy shoulder, these portions of bone are covered with cartilage, which allows for painless motion—lifting, pushing and pulling. But arthritis can damage this protective cartilage, which makes these motions painful.

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that causes wear and tear to your joint cartilage and develops after years of constant motion and pressure on the joints. If non-surgical treatment options such as medication, physical therapy or lifestyle changes fail to provide relief, your surgeon may recommend shoulder replacement surgery.

What is Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

During a total shoulder replacement surgery, a doctor takes out the damaged parts of your shoulder joint and replaces them with new parts.

Your surgeon will:

  • Put you under anesthesia.
  • Make a cut so they can access your shoulder joint.
  • Remove the damaged parts of your bones or cartilage.
  • Replace the removed parts with metal and plastic implants.

Shoulder Replacement Options

A primary, or anatomic, shoulder replacement is one type of surgery your doctor may want to do.

During primary shoulder replacement surgery, your surgeon will:

  1. Make a cut in the front of the shoulder so they can access your joint.
  2. Take out the damaged bone and cartilage.
  3. Remove the head of the bone at the top of your arm.
  4. Place a metal stem into your arm bone.
  5. Place a plastic socket implant on your shoulder blade.

If you have damage to your rotator cuff muscle, your surgeon may want to do a reverse total shoulder replacement surgery.

During reverse total shoulder replacement surgery, your surgeon will:

  1. Make a cut in the front of the shoulder, so they can access your joint.
  2. Take out the damaged bone and cartilage.
  3.  Remove the head of the bone at the top of your arm.
  4. Attach a metal ball to the shoulder blade.
  5. Place a metal implant into the upper arm bone.
  6. Attach a plastic socket to the implant in the upper arm bone.

Can Shoulder Replacement Technology Help Me?

To get the best results for your shoulder replacement surgery, your surgeon must understand your unique bone shape before the surgery so they can put each new shoulder part in the right place.

If they do not, then your new shoulder parts may not work the way they should.

For many years, surgeons have used X-rays, surgical tools, and special techniques to plan surgeries. But now, advanced technologies for shoulder replacement are available to help your surgeon get your shoulder implant positioned just right.

You may have heard of robotics, robot-assisted surgery or computer-assisted surgery. Exactech Active Intelligence surgeons use a computer-assisted shoulder surgery technology. It is called ExactechGPS Guided Personalized Surgery. ExactechGPS helps surgeons plan for your surgery using a virtual simulation on a computer.

Exactech Shoulder Replacement Xray
Exactech Shoulder Replacement options

How ExactechGPS Shoulder Replacement Technology Works

Prior to surgery, Active Intelligence surgeons use your CT scan to create a 3D model on a computer to clearly see your shoulder joint and bone structure. This helps the surgeon decide where to make bone cuts and place your implant. Personalized just for you, your surgeon can plan your surgery through a virtual simulation before even entering the operating room. Then, during surgery, your doctor will use this plan to place your shoulder implant just where it should be.1

These are some of the features of ExactechGPS:


With a few simple trackers placed on the patient’s bone, the system sends data on the patient’s anatomical structure and joint movement to the computer.


The images on the screen allow the surgeon to verify where to remove bone and appropriately place the implant.


The computer analyzes the information it has gathered and displays it on the screen in a graphical format with calculated key measurements.

Exactech Shoulder Replacement Implant Options

Exactech Shoulder Replacement System

Designed to provide you with the best possible shoulder surgery outcome

Exactech’s Equinoxe® Shoulder Replacement System offers many types and sizes of high-quality implants to help fit your shoulder. It is made to provide you with the best possible shoulder replacement outcome.

The Equinoxe Shoulder Replacement System is a platform system, which allows surgeons to change a primary or fracture shoulder replacement to a reverse shoulder replacement with the same stem implant. This helps to preserve your natural bone.

Some of the unique features of Exactech’s Shoulder Replacement System Include:

Help match your individual bone structure

Preserve your natural bone structure

Work in many different types of shoulder surgery

Address unique clinical problems

With any surgery, there are potential risks, and results will vary depending on the patient. Joint replacement surgery is not for everyone. Check with your physician to determine if you are a candidate for joint replacement surgery. Your physician will consider the risks and benefits associated with this procedure, as well as individual factors such as the cause of your condition, your age, height, weight and activity level.


The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical advice. This information is not intended to replace the expert guidance of your orthopaedic surgeon. Please direct any questions or concerns you may have to your orthopaedic surgeon. Decisions concerning patient care and treatment should be made solely by your physician(s). With any surgery, there are potential risks and results will vary depending on the patient.

  1. Data on file at Exactech.

ExactechGPS® is manufactured by Blue Ortho® and distributed by Exactech.