Shoulder Arthroscopy Complications

None of the surgical procedures are free of complications including Shoulder Arthroscopy. Even though there have been very few complications in our hands, we are listing some of the common complications which can occur during or after Shoulder Arthroscopy.

  • Shoulder Stiffness
  • Equipment Failure
  • Infection
  • Loosening and breakage of implant
  • Medical complications due to anesthesia


Shoulder Stiffness after Arthroscopy is seen in about 10% of people. It is known as a 'Post-operative Frozen Shoulder'. It is more common after Ruff Cuff Repairs and in older people. In most cases it improves with physiotherapy, but sometimes a steroid injection is required. Almost all stiffness goes off within a year of surgery.

Equipment Failure:

The consoles for the light, camera shaver and ablator devices are all electronic gadgets. Even though these are checked immediately before the surgery, they can fail anytime during the surgery. In events like these back-up consoles are always present in the theater This could lead to delay in the surgery as these consoles are exchanged. Also the instruments used during Shoulder Arthroscopy are small and fragile. These instruments can be broken resulting in a piece of the instrument floating inside of the Shoulder Joint. The broken piece is usually, easily located and removed, but this may again cause a delay in the surgery. There is usually no damage to the Shoulder Joint due to the breakage.


Following Shoulder Arthroscopy, it is possible that a post-operative infection may occur. This is very uncommon and happens in less than 1% of cases. You may experience increased pain, swelling, fever and redness or drainage from the incisions.

Infections are of two types: Superficial and Deep Infections.

A superficial infection:

May occur in the skin around the incisions or portals. A superficial infection does not extend into the joint and can usually be treated with antibiotics alone.

Deep infection:

If the Shoulder Joint itself becomes infected, you will require antibiotics and possibly another surgical procedure to drain the infection.

Loosening or Breakage of the implant:

Different types of surgical devices (screws, pins, and suture anchors) are used to hold tissue in place during and after Arthroscopy. These devices can cause problems. If one breaks, the free-floating piece may hurt other parts inside the Shoulder Joint, particularly the articular cartilage. The end of the tissue anchor may poke too far through the tissue and the point may rub and irritate nearby tissues. A second surgery may be needed to remove the device or fix problems with these devices.

Loosening of the suture anchor occurs if the quality of the bone is Osteoporotic.

Anesthesia Complications:

All Shoulder Arthroscopic procedures are done under general anesthesia. A very small number of patients have problems with anesthesia. These problems can be reactions to the drugs used, problems related to other medical complications, and problems due to the anesthesia. Be sure to discuss the risks and your concerns with your anesthetist.