Intended for healthcare professionals


Adverse events after arthroscopic shoulder surgery

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 06 July 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o1571

Linked Research

Serious adverse event rates and reoperation after arthroscopic shoulder surgery

  1. Tuomas Lähdeoja, consultant shoulder and elbow surgeon1,
  2. Teemu Karjalainen, consultant hand surgeon2
  1. 1Finnish Centre for Evidence-Based Orthopaedics, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Hospital Nova, Central Finland Healthcare District, Finland
  1. Correspondence to: T Lähdeoja tuomas.lahdeoja{at}

Safety data are welcome, but do these procedures work?

Shoulder problems comprise a substantial disease burden. One sixth of the adult population in the United Kingdom, for example, has reported shoulder pain.1 For patients with persistent symptoms, typical care pathways in high income countries lead to consideration of surgery. In the UK, this results in more than 40 000 arthroscopic shoulder procedures each year, according to a linked paper by Rees and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-069901).2 Despite these high volumes, accurate data on the risks of arthroscopic shoulder surgery have been lacking, particularly in the period beyond 30 days.3 The new study by Rees and colleagues helps to fill this knowledge gap.

Shoulder surgery has been considered safe, based on limited data on harms from the United States.3 Now, Rees and colleagues have quantified harm serious enough to warrant hospital admission among adults who underwent 288 250 arthroscopic shoulder procedures in the UK between 2009 and 2017. Compared with the US estimate, twice the rate of serious harm was reported by these …

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