What are the most common complications and risks of orthopedic surgery?

- answered by Staff at Marina Del Rey Hospital on 21st November 2016

The most common complications and risks of orthopedic surgery include bleeding, infections, blood coagulation, nerve damage, limited range of motion, arthritis, scar formation, recurrence of injury, as well as complications due to anesthesia.

Orthopedic surgeries do not generally entail major risks and complications. Surgeons are properly trained to avoid potential difficulties which might occur during an intervention, as well as to efficiently correct such problems if they appear. However, some of the risks and complications which may accompany an orthopedic surgical procedure are:

  • Postoperative infections: In order to avoid this complication, you will be administered antibiotics before, during and after the surgery. If you have an ongoing infection (throat, urinary, dental etc.), it is highly recommended to treat it prior to the intervention, as it can reach your joint and a late infection could develop months or even years following joint replacement surgery.
  • Blood clots: They may occasionally appear after a knee replacement surgery. Blood clots can be avoided with appropriate medication and physical exercise.
  • Blood vessel damage: This complication may appear if blood vessels located in close proximity of the implant are affected during the procedure.
  • Blood effusion in the joint
  • Nerve damage or neuroparalysis: It might appear if nerves close to the implant are severely damaged during the intervention.
  • Bleeding
  • Bone fracture: It might occur while the prosthesis is being inserted, particularly if your bones are fragile.
  • Scar formation
  • Implant failure: Implant failure includes improper placement of the prosthesis, dislocation (if muscles are too weak), limited range of motion, malfunction, gradual detachment from the bone and wear or break of the prosthesis’s components.
  • Joint stiffness
  • Allergic reactions: The patient might experience an allergic reaction to the cement used to fix the implant or to the metal components of the prosthesis (titanium, cobalt, chromium etc.).
  • New pain after surgery
  • Development of arthritis
  • Excessive bone growth or bone loss
  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia
  • Differences in the length of legs: It may occasionally follow knee replacement surgery.

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This page was last updated on 04/28/2017 4:05 PM PST