Higher risk of complications after shoulder replacement surgery in diabetes patients

infected shoulder replacement in diabetes patientsNew research suggests that patients with diabetes who undergo shoulder replacement surgery may have an increased risk of complications. Results of the study, published within the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, revealed there was a particularly high risk of deep infection and postoperative wound complications.

This is the first time that diabetes has been linked to complications within shoulder surgery, though it has long been linked to an increased risk of hip and knee replacement surgery. As the number of patients with diabetes seeking shoulder replacement surgery is sure to rise, researchers wanted to determine the true risks involved.

What did the study reveal?

The study was carried out to determine the link between deep postoperative infection and preoperative levels of HbA1c, after shoulder replacement surgery. It delved into data from 18,729 patients who had a shoulder replacement surgery between the years 2007 and 2015. Out of these patients, 8,068 had Diabetes and approximately 2,537 of them had their HbA1c levels tested within three months prior to the surgery.

The researchers looked at the wound complication rate after six months, and the deep infection rate within one year of the surgery. It was discovered that patients who do have diabetes, have a 1.4% risk of developing an infection and a 0.7% risk of developing a deep infection. In contrast, patients without diabetes had a 0.9% risk of infection and a 0.4% risk of a deep infection.

So, it does show patients suffering from diabetes do have a great risk of complications However, that risk is still extremely small.

How accurate is the study?

Although the study has proven successful in identifying an increased risk in diabetes sufferers, it did have its limitations. The main thing which could impact the accuracy of the study is the analysis of HbA1c levels. The tests to measure HbA1c levels can be inaccurate, particularly if the patient is suffering from another condition which may be impacting their blood sugar.

The study was also reliant upon a pretty large database, relying upon the accuracy at which the data was coded. So, the results may not be as reliable as the researchers might have hoped.

How to spot an infected shoulder replacement

The risk of infection after a shoulder replacement surgery is extremely rare. However, it is worth being aware of the signs of an infected joint such as the shoulder.

The main symptoms of an infected shoulder replacement include:

  • Stiffness or pain within the joint
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling
  • Wound drainage
  • Redness and warmth surrounding the wound

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should consult your surgeon immediately. In case of an infection, there are several treatment options available, but early intervention is always best.