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Shoulder Replacement Abroad

Shoulder replacement cost package: US $ 8,000 ~ 12,500
{The shoulder replacement surgery cost covers all medical & logistics costs at destination}

Costa Rica [USA Joint Commission International Accredited Hospital]
India [Harvard Medical Affiliated & USA Joint Commission Accredited Hospital]
Mexico [World Class Hospitals]
Belgium [Top Orthopedic Surgery Centers]

Shoulder replacement is not as common as hip replacement or knee replacement. Patients’ apprehensions about the cost and outcome of the surgery are partly responsible for this. The cost factor can be taken care of, thanks to cheap shoulder replacement surgery available in India, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Belgium. It is not only the cost advantage that medical tourists get, but also the high quality and personalized medical care when they go overseas.

Shoulder replacement is very safe and has very good results. It is no riskier than other joint replacement surgeries.
The indications for shoulder replacement are pain from arthritis, wearing out of the joints, or shoulder injury and the attendant loss of function. Surgery is recommended when the shoulder pain is unresponsive to non-surgical treatment such as inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and rest.

However, surgery is sometimes not offered to people who have high expectations from shoulder replacement, like athletes, tennis players, painters, etc. This is because though the artificial shoulder allows a person to do routine activities with less pain, it does not restore the level of function that the person had before the shoulder joint was damaged.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery – Procedure Overview

The joint is approached through a large incision in the shoulder region. The upper joint of the humerous (the upper arm bone) is cut and removed. The removed part is replaced by an artificial surface known as ‘prosthesis’. The prosthesis may need to be cemented to the bone or it may be made of material that allows new bone to grow into the joint over time to hold it in place without cement.

Shoulder replacement surgery may be done under regional or general anesthesia, depending on your orthopedic surgeon’s opinion, your health, and on what you prefer.

History of Shoulder Replacement

The first humeral head replacement in the United States was implanted for a proximal humeral fracture in 1953. In 1971, a matching polyethylene glenoid component was used as the first total shoulder replacement. (Source: The Shoulder by Edward V. Craig)

How to Prepare for Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder Replacement Abroad
Your doctor will give you a detailed list of the preparatory things you need to do before shoulder surgery. The list below is only indicative:

  • If you have any infection in your teeth, get it treated. If infection from the mouth spreads to the artificial joint, it can cause a serious problem.
  • You may be discharged the same day as your surgery or may be required to stay a few days in the hospital. In either case, arrange for someone to take you home and help you with household work.
  • If you may need blood during or after surgery, you could have your blood drawn a few weeks before surgery. This is called autologous blood donation.

What to Expect or Precautions to be Taken After Shoulder Replacement

  • You will be on pain medication for a few days. You may even have to take anti-coagulants for several weeks after surgery.
  • Stomach ache or constipation after surgery is common.
  • A physical therapist may begin gentle shoulder exercises on the day of surgery or the next day. These exercises are passive, that is, the therapist moves the arm for you.
  • After you go home, it is very important to stick to the rehabilitation program designed by your health professional. The main goal of this program is to restore maximum range of motion to your shoulder so that you can do your daily activities like dressing, cooking, and driving without hindrance, pain, or anyone’s help. However, other important factors that influence the success of the surgery and the rehab program are the extent of motion you had before surgery.
  • If you do not have anyone to help you out at home, it’s best to stay at the hospital for longer or to go to a specialized rehab center.
  • If you see any redness or drainage from the wound or if you get a fever, call your doctor.
  • For the rest of your life, you will have to take antibiotics before you go for any dental work or any invasive medical procedure. This is necessary to prevent infection spreading to your shoulder replacement.

Risks of Shoulder Replacement

All surgery comes with certain risks. Also, certain sets of people, like those who have heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease are more at risk than healthier people are. Risks or complications that may arise from shoulder replacement surgery are:

  • Blood clots in a leg vein, if you are inactive. More common in older people, obese people, and those who have cancer.
  • Infection. People who have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic liver disease, or those who take corticosteroids are at a higher risk of infection after any surgery.
  • Nerve injury.
  • Slow healing.
  • Lack of good range of motion.
  • Dislocation of the upper arm bone (humerus). This usually happens only if the soft tissues around the shoulder are stretched too soon after surgery.
  • Fracture of the upper arm bone. Rare, but may happen either during or after surgery.

Benefits of Shoulder Replacement

As a result of shoulder replacement, most people have much less pain and are able to do many of their daily activities more easily.

The shoulder will not move like it did before you developed shoulder problems, but significant range of motion will be restored, allowing you to resume activities like golfing, swimming, walking for exercise, dancing, etc. (if you did these before surgery).

Alternatives to Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder replacement is always the last option after other alternatives like anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, or physiotherapy have been tried out and they have failed. Except in the case of traumatic injury, these alternatives are mandatorily tried out first. Shoulder resurfacing (discussed below) is also an alternative to shoulder replacement, provided your shoulder conditions are suitable for such a procedure.

Shoulder Replacement vs. Shoulder Resurfacing

In shoulder resurfacing, bone spurs are removed and the joint surface is smoothened. A lot of bone is conserved in this procedure as opposed to shoulder replacement, in which the humeral head and the shoulder socket is removed and replaced with an artificial implant.

Shoulder resurfacing is generally indicated for young, active adults, who will have greater expectations or place greater demands on their body. Also, a shoulder resurfacing can always be converted to a total shoulder replacement later, if needed. Shoulder resurfacing is minimally invasive and hence recovery is faster and less painful.

But all patients with shoulder arthritis or other shoulder problems do not automatically qualify for shoulder resurfacing surgery. If the shoulder head and surrounding areas are substantially worn away or damaged because of trauma, they may be better off with shoulder replacement than shoulder surgery.

Shoulder Replacement Cost Abroad

Shoulder replacement surgery in the US can cost you about $40,000, if you are paying from your own pocket. Even with insurance cover, significant co-pay is involved, making it a very expensive procedure.

But cost is not a major worry now, as many patients from the US, UK, Canada, etc., are going overseas to countries like India, Mexico, and Costa Rica for shoulder replacement surgery. The reason they are doing so is because of the incredible cost savings and the great quality of medical care available in private hospitals in Belgium, India, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Orthopedic surgeons in Costa Rica, Mexico, India, and Belgium in tourist hospitals are board-certified and have rich experience. So, having shoulder replacement surgery abroad is just as safe as having it at home – only it’s much cheaper. Below are links to expert joint replacement surgeons from Medical Tourism Corporation’s network:

Shoulder Replacement Surgeons in Mexico:

Dr Dario E Garin: Educated in the USA and Mexico, Dr Garin is an expert orthopedic surgeon from Mexico experienced in joint reconstruction and arthroscopy.
Dr. Jesus Irineo Gallarzo Ramirez: He has vast experience in joint replacement surgery and has many satisfied patients from the US.

Shoulder Replacement Surgeon in Costa Rica:

Dr. Oscar Oeding Bermudez: A third of Dr Bermudez’s clients are medical tourists from the US, Europe, and Canada. This orthopedic surgeon from Costa Rica performs three or four surgeries per day.

Shoulder Replacement Surgeons in India:

  • Dr Kaushal Malhan: Dr Malhan has seven years of training and work experience in the UK. Dr. Malhan has performed hundreds of joint replacement surgeries. He also has several medical publications to his credit.
  • Dr Sanjay Pai: He has more than 18 years of experience in orthopedic surgery. Dr Pai has trained in the US, UK, and Australia.
  • Dr P Suryanarayana: He has had extensive education and experience in India and abroad. Dr Suryanarayana is an expert in primary and revision joint replacement.
  • Dr Yash Gulati: He has trained in the UK and Ireland apart from India. Expert in joint replacement surgery.

Related links:
Cost of shoulder resurfacing
Rotator cuff repair abroad
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