shoulder surgery risks

Shoulder Surgery Risks Are Low but Some Patients Require Further Surgery, New Study Finds

A new study carried out by the University of Oxford has revealed that shoulder surgery risks are low, but some patients do require additional surgery. Published in the British Medical Journal, the results provide reassurance to those who may be putting off going under the knife through fear of complications.

Here we will look at what the study revealed, and what patients can expect if they need to undergo shoulder surgery.

Just 1.2% of patients experience serious complications from shoulder surgery

The study, which assessed data from 288,250 arthroscopic shoulder procedures carried out from 2009-2017, showed risks of shoulder surgery are low. Just 1.2% of patients went on to develop serious complications such as pneumonia, a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and death.

Approximately one in every 81 patients is at risk of developing one of these complications within 90 days. This does depend upon the type of procedure carried out, alongside other risk factors. However, it does show that complications are generally quite rare after undergoing shoulder surgery.

The most common complication that arose in the study, was Pneumonia, affecting one in every 303 patients. Pulmonary embolisms were the least common complication, affecting one in every 1428 patients.

One in 26 patients require additional shoulder surgery

The number of patients requiring additional surgery was also low, affecting one in 26 patients. An additional procedure was required either due to complications arising, or because the first operation didn’t work.

Repeat procedures caused by an infection were rare and occurred more frequently in rotator cuff repairs. They are also higher in frozen shoulder release surgery, likely down to its unpredictable nature and a lack of understanding about the condition.

The study didn’t reveal the exact cause of the increased complications. However, it does give surgeons and healthcare professionals a better idea of the risks and safety of shoulder surgery.

Understanding the risks of shoulder surgery

Any patient who requires shoulder surgery should go into the procedure understanding the risks. While they may be low, being aware of the complications gives patients the opportunity to make the most informed decision over their treatment.

Over the course of the study, the number of arthroscopic shoulder procedures increased. There is expected to be a continued rise in the number of procedures carried out each year. With more surgeries being conducted, being aware of the risks is crucial.

Generally speaking, the main risks of shoulder surgery include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve injury
  • Unsightly scarring

The risks and complications will vary depending upon your individual circumstances, as well as the severity of the condition.

If you are concerned about the risks of shoulder surgery, book a consultation with one of our friendly and knowledgeable surgeons. They will be able to address any fears you may have, and give you a better idea of your personalised risk factors.