What happens before surgery?

Patient assessment – your personal medical history

In the initial consultation the doctor will ask you about your complaints. They will ask where you have pain and where this pain radiates to. They will also enquire about the intensity of the pain, how long it lasts and any influencing factors which exacerbate or ease the pain.

Physical examination – where does it hurt?

The doctor will first examine your shoulders, neck, back and both arms and palpate the various structures. They will then conduct some movement tests to gain an impression of the mobility of the shoulder joint. They will also check the level of pain caused by various movements in the shoulder joint, such as adduction, abduction, rotating and raising.

X-ray – focus on your shoulder

Using an X-ray image, the doctor is able to identify changes caused by shoulder arthrosis: i.e. owing to a loss of cartilage the intra-articular space between the humeral head and the glenoid cavity is either no longer uniform, is narrower or is even no longer visible. The bone structure of the humeral head and glenoid cavity appears irregular and altered; in very advanced stages the sections of the joint are deformed.

Preoperative discussion – your chance to ask any questions

On the day before surgery, the surgeon will usually talk to you in detail about the planned procedure. During the consultation, they will explain the method of surgery and the type of prosthesis that will be used. Selecting the right prosthesis model depends on your individual bone condition, your body weight and your physical activity. The surgeon therefore normally decides beforehand which prosthesis model and type of fixation to use based on your X-ray and data.

In most cases, the surgeon will ask you about your state of health on the day before surgery. Do not hesitate to inform your doctor of any minor complaints you may have, such as colds and skin infections, even if you are not asked. Although harmless, these illnesses need to be cured before a surgical intervention.

The anaesthetist will also talk to you on the day before the surgery to explain the potential risks involved with the anaesthesia. They will also perform a few minor examinations, with a particular focus on heart and lung function and any possible allergies. They will then discuss the type of anaesthesia to be used.