How Effective (and Safe) Is Shoulder Surgery?

FRIDAY, July 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- If your doctor has told you that you need shoulder surgery and you're worried about complications, a new British study indicates you can relax.

Only 1.2% of more than 260,000 patients suffered from complications following arthroscopic surgery to repair shoulder injuries, the researchers reported. Further, only 1 in 26 patients required further surgery in the coming year, either because the procedure didn't work or they developed a complication.

"The findings of this study suggest that risks of serious adverse events associated with common shoulder arthroscopy procedures are low," said University of Oxford researchers led by Dr. Jonathan Rees, from the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences.

"Nevertheless, serious complications do occur, and include the risk of re-operation in 1 in 26 patients within one year," they said.

The researchers analyzed U.K. National Health Service hospital data on 288,250 arthroscopic shoulder procedures performed on 261,248 patients aged 16 or older between April 2009 and March 2017.

They found the most common complication of the surgery was pneumonia, with 1 in 303 patients at risk.

Other serious adverse events included death, blood clots in the lung, heart attack, acute kidney injury, stroke and urinary tract infections, the study found.

Repeat operations due to infection were rare (1 in 1,111 patients), but tended to occur more frequently in rotator cuff repairs (1 in 526 patients).

The study was published July 6 in the BMJ.

"As the numbers of other arthroscopic shoulder procedures continue to increase, this study provides real-world generalizable estimates of serious adverse events and re-operation rates that should better inform surgeons and patients," Rees and his colleagues said in a journal news release.

More information

The Cleveland Clinic has more about shoulder surgery.

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, July 6, 2022

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