Shoulder replacement surgery was first performed in the U.S. in the 1950s. Its purpose was to treat severe shoulder fractures. This surgical procedure involves the removal of damaged parts of the shoulder and the implantation of an artificial device, called a prosthesis, that is similarly shaped as the shoulder part it will replace.

Shoulder replacement surgery has always been expected to provide relief from pain, besides restoring shoulder motion, function and strength. This is not the case, however, if a patient is implanted with a faulty replacement device, for instead of increased function and minimized pain, the result would rather be worse pain, additional costly medical expenses and the need for corrective surgery.

There are four types surgical procedures for shoulder replacement. The type of procedure a patient will undergo will depend on his/her doctor’s evaluation and specific health needs.

  • Total Shoulder Replacement is replacement of the original ball-and-socket with similarly shaped prosthetic parts.
  • Partial Shoulder Replacement or Stemmed Hemiarthroplasty is the procedure that needs to be performed if the humeral head has been severely fractured, but the socket is unharmed.
  • Shoulder Resurfacing or Resurfacing Hemiarthroplasty involves replacement of the joint surface of the humeral head with cap-like prosthesis.
  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement or Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty is the procedure wherein the positions of the joint’s ball and socket are reversed or switched. This means that the ball gets attached to the scapula rather than to the humeral head, and the artificial socket is attached to the humeral head rather than to the scapula.

The Comprehensive Reverse Shoulder System Humeral Tray, which Zimmer Biomet started manufacturing on August 25, 2008, is a shoulder replacement device that is surgically implanted to help restore arm movement. This device is also beneficial for patients with rotator cuff tears who have developed a severe type of shoulder arthritis known as arthropathy and previously failed shoulder joint replacement.

On December 15, 2016, however, Zimmer Biomet, moved to recall more than 3,600 pieces of said device after it was discovered that this device was fracturing at a higher rate than is stated in its labeling. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these fractures can result in revision surgeries that can lead to serious adverse health consequences, including permanent loss of shoulder function, infection or death (though rarely).

In its website, law firm Williams Kherkher says that those who suffer a serious fracture due to a defective Zimmer Biomet comprehensive reverse shoulder system may be eligible for compensation for their pain, suffering, medical bills, and other damages. Zimmer shoulder lawsuit lawyers believe that medical device manufacturers have a responsibility to properly test and label their devices, and if those systems fail, they should be held accountable for the injuries they cause.