Complications associated with arthroscopic shoulder surgery

Stephen C. Weber, Jeffrey S. Abrams, Wesley M. Nottage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


We review the literature on complication of arthroscopic shoulder surgery and their management. Computer data based searches were used to identify articles regarding complications of shoulder arthroscopy, as well as hand searches of Arthroscopy and Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery over the last decade. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery has become a popular therapeutic and diagnostic procedure during the past two decades. As with all interventions complications can occur which require recognition and management by the orthopedic surgeon. While the literature is helpful with identifying types of complications, establishing the rate of these complications remains elusive. These complications can be divided into general complications, complications generic to all shoulder procedures, and complications specific to the type of procedure performed. General complications such as infection and anesthesia problems continue to show low incidences. Shoulder arthroscopy presents increased risk of complications over knee arthroscopy in regard to vascular and neurologic injury, fluid extravasation, stiffness, iatrogenic tendon injury, and equipment failure. New techniques of increased complexity for subacromial surgery, rotator cuff repair, and arthroscopic instability present new problems related to implant failure, nerve injury, iatrogenic fracture, and capsular necrosis. While the rate of complications especially with newer procedures remain elusive, most studies suggest that the rate is low, 5.8-9.5% in all recent review studies published. Underreporting complications makes assessment of incidence rates of complication difficult. Proper patient selection, attention to operative detail, and careful post-operative monitoring can minimize the morbidity associated with these complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-95
Number of pages8
Issue number2 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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