St. Elizabeth first in the world to offer new shoulder replacement


Have trouble moving your shoulder? Can’t reach the top shelf, or throw a ball like you used to?

Terrence Butler, age 67, from Greendale, Ind., and Lenny Carbonia, age 63, from Independence, Ky., know those symptoms all too well. Both men had arthritis that ravaged the cartilage in their right shoulder joints. X-rays showed bone rubbing against bone.

“I got pain in my right shoulder whenever I tried to lift a heavy object, throw a ball or cast my fishing line,” said Butler.

Carbonia described his pain similarly: “I had trouble driving a car. My right arm wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. I had severe pain.”

Both Butler and Carbonia found relief after having a revolutionary new shoulder replacement surgery at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. The procedure – the Rotator Cuff Sparing Method for Total Shoulder Replacement – was developed by Dr. Michael Greiwe, an Orthopaedic Surgeon at OrthoCincy, practicing at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

“It’s a real game changer. With this new technique, we can replace the bad shoulder joint without cutting the patient’s rotator cuff,” said Greiwe. “It reduces pain significantly and speeds up healing.”

Butler and Carbonia were the first two patients in the world to have their shoulders replaced this way.


The Rotator Cuff Sparing Method – a better way to access the shoulder joint

During a regular shoulder replacement, surgeons cut tendons in the front rotator cuff and pull them away to access your bad shoulder joint. It’s like opening the front door to get to a back room.

“Patients must recover from a tendon repair, as well as the shoulder replacement,” explained Greiwe. “That slows down recovery time.”

With the new Rotator Cuff Sparing technique, Dr. Greiwe accesses your shoulder joint from the back, rather than the front. Using instruments that he designed specifically for the new surgery, he separates the fibers in the back of the shoulder and pulls them open, almost like opening window curtains. He replaces the old ball and socket joint with new, artificial implants, without cutting the rotator cuff tendons.

“Our new method of replacing the shoulder joint by going in from the back helps people immensely from a pain standpoint,” says Greiwe. “We also eliminate potential complications, because we don’t cut the rotator cuff.”

Greiwe says patients who have the new shoulder replacement are reporting better outcomes than patients who have traditional replacement surgery, including:

  • Significantly less pain.
  • Reduced time on pain medication.
  • Quicker return to work and family obligations.
  • Shorter physical therapy and rehabilitation.



How was patient recovery?

Butler was the first patient to ever receive Greiwe’s new shoulder replacement.

“I had no pain when I woke up from shoulder replacement,” Butler recalled. “I think I actually went fishing on the third day home.”

Butler wore a sling for two weeks and went to physical therapy for seven weeks. After three months, he considered himself fully recovered. After a traditional shoulder replacement, recovery can take six to nine months.

“I feel good. I can do anything I want.”

Carbonia, the second patient to get the new shoulder replacement, is highly satisfied as well.

“In two weeks, I had complete range of motion in my right shoulder. I could reach. I could drive,” said Carbonia.

Carbonia had regular replacement surgery on his other shoulder four years ago. “The regular surgery was extremely painful. With the new procedure, I stopped taking my heavy-duty prescription pain pills after one day. I healed faster.”

Both Butler and Carbonia spent one night in the hospital for observation since this is a new technique, but Greiwe says this will be an outpatient procedure in the future.

“I’m excited that our new shoulder replacement method will spare people pain and improve their quality of life,” said Greiwe.

For more information about the Rotator Cuff Sparing Method for Total Shoulder Replacement, call 859-301-2663 (BONE) or visit