Shoulder replacement surgery is a common procedure for patients who experience shoulder injuries. While the vast majority of shoulder replacement surgeries are successful, complications can arise. When surgeries are not done properly, or errors occur as a result of surgeon negligence, shoulder replacement surgery may fail. This can cause serious issues for patients, ranging from the need for additional surgeries to permanent damage. In some extreme cases, shoulder replacement surgery failure can be fatal.
If you, or someone you love, have undergone shoulder replacement surgery that fails, you should know what to expect. Let’s take a look at the common injuries that occur and how they may impact you long-term. If your shoulder replacement surgery failed as a result of surgeon error, or medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation. Here, we’ll also explore ways to ensure you get the settlement you deserve so you can focus on your road to recovery.
Common Failed Shoulder Replacement Surgery Injuries
Shoulder replacement surgeries are common amongst patients. Because the shoulder is used to perform many everyday tasks, it is a part of the body that can be susceptible to injury. Shoulder replacement surgery may be performed due to common injuries, such as:
- Rotator cuff tears
- Shoulder joint replacements
Shoulder replacement surgery is considered to have failed when it does not achieve the expectations set by the surgeon and understood by the patient. Additionally, some surgeries may fail when they cause unexpected complications. When shoulder surgery does fail, there are some common injuries that patients experience. These include:
- Failure to heal
- Nerve injury
- Blood clots or other anesthesia complications
- Joint dislocation or partial dislocation
- Prosthetic misalignment
- Prosthetic loosening
- Bone fracture
- Blood vessel injury
- Reaction to Polyethylene or Polymethylmethacrylate
Any surgery comes with the potential risk of complications. If you experience a failed shoulder injury surgery, it’s important you consult with a surgeon to evaluate the cause of your failure. Some causes may be easily fixed with stretching exercises and physical therapy. Other causes may require additional surgeries. Still other causes may unfortunately result in permanent damage.
The Shoulder Anatomy and How Injury Impacts the Shoulder
The shoulder is mostly made up of a joint. The joint is located between the area of the shoulder blade and the chest. When we move our arm, the movement occurs at both of these joints, two-thirds of which occurs at the shoulder joint itself. The shoulder can be most commonly described as a ball and socket. The ball is called the humerus and the socket is called the scapula.
The actual anatomy of the shoulder is unique. This is what gives it the large range of motion and its flexibility. The main shoulder joint is surrounded by other joints, muscles, and ligaments. This is what it both flexible and prone to injury. Injury to any of these parts can lead to chronic pain, weakness, and instability. Because of its makeup, and its everyday use, the shoulder is susceptible to injuries that often require shoulder replacement surgery.
Shoulder injuries are common amongst sports athletes. In addition, falls and automobile accidents often cause shoulder injury. Because your shoulder moves every time you you’re your arm, shoulder injuries are difficult to ignore. When a patient experiences a shoulder injury, it can impact them in the following ways:
- Numbness throughout the shoulder area moving into the arm
- Tingling feeling
- Changes in temperature or color of the skin
- Changes in the range of motion
- Nerve damage
- Joint damage
- Inability to move
- Muscle tension
- Infections including cellulitis, infectious arthritis, septic bursitis, and osteomyelitis
Most Common Causes of Failed Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Failed shoulder replacement surgery can be caused by a number of different factors. These include:
- Infection- Wound infections make up a small amount of failed shoulder replacement surgery cases. In most cases, they can be resolved with antibiotic treatment. But, some rare cases result in the need to remove the artificial shoulder joint. In extreme cases, infections due to shoulder replacement surgery can be life threatening.
- Stiffness- Stiffness can be an unexpected outcome that results in failed shoulder replacement surgery. The most common causes of stiffness are poor rehabilitation, unwanted bone, tuberosity malunion, and overstuffing of the joint.
- Instability- Instability can be caused by a number of factors. These include
- Posterior cuff defect
- Excessive humeral component retroversion
- Glenoid component retroversion
- Insufficient posterior glenoid bone
- Loss of the rotator cuff
- Loss of the coracoacromial arch
- Supraspinatus defect
- Tuberosity nonunion
- Subscapularis deficiency
- Weakness- The most common causes of weakness include
- Reduced muscle strength
- Subscapularis deficiency
- Supraspinatus deficiency
- Tuberosity nonunion
- Deltoid detachment
- Nerve injury
- Joint dislocation or Subluxation- This occurs when the new ball and socket dislocate from each other. While the risk of this will decrease as the muscles are strengthened, the risk never completely goes away. Therefore, patients who undergo shoulder replacement surgery may have to have permanent restrictions from certain activities.
- Prosthetic misalignment, loosening, or joint instability- This occurs when the prosthetic is not sufficiently secured into the natural bone. Additionally, it may occur if the prosthetic is not well aligned with other parts of the shoulder.
- Bone fracture- A patient’s natural bone tissue can break during or after surgery. This can be impacted by natural causes, such as the patient’s anatomy and bone density, or the surgical placement of the prosthetics.
- Blood vessel or nerve injury- Although this risk is low, some failed surgeries can be a result of injury to the surrounding nerves and blood vessels.
Other complications include:
- Risk of stroke
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
Personal Injury Cases for Failed Shoulder Replacement Surgery
In addition to the common causes of failed shoulder replacement surgery listed above, manufacturer negligence may be a cause. If your failed shoulder replacement surgery was not due to medical malpractice, you may also be entitled to compensation at the expense of the implant manufacturer.
There are several cases that have been settled as a result of manufacturer negligence. Some examples include:
- Zimmer Biomet Reverse Shoulder Implant- This implant was associated with high failure rates, additional surgeries, and serious injuries. Over three-thousand, five-hundred devices were recalled and more than twenty-five hundred cases were filed against the device manufacturer. According to the lawsuits, the manufacturer allegedly knew about the risks, but failed to disclose them to the public. By 2016, the entire line of implants was recalled. It was found that the manufacturer was negligent in its design, which was not tested for safety before approval.
- Stryker Corporation Defective Shoulder Implant- Another shoulder replacement system, the Reunion TSA by Stryker, was recalled due to its ineffectiveness and risk to patient’s health. This is not the first recall by the company, and the implant was found to be dangerous and defective.
Anytime medical implants are recalled, lawsuits generally follow. These lawsuits cover the medical expenses, lost time from work, and emotional and physical pain that patients endure as a result.
Why It’s Important to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Anytime a shoulder replacement surgery fails due to medical negligence or manufacturer negligence, it is important you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case. Since you may be entitled to compensation, you want someone to handle your case that knows the ins and outs of liability and can ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
When you undergo shoulder replacement surgery, you should expect an outcome better than that which you went in. If your failed surgery is a result of negligence, you are most likely entitled to compensation. While some complications may be inevitable, negligence should always be addressed. And, those responsible, should provide proper compensation for the injuries or loss of life caused at their hands.
If you experienced a failed shoulder replacement surgery, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney to determine whether or not you are entitled to compensation. Your attorney will help you gather the information you need to pursue your case. Once they determine you have a case, they will take the necessary steps to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. This will give you the time and peace of mind to heal from your injury and set on a path to recovery.
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