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

The most common complications and risks of orthopedic surgery include bleeding, infections, blood coagulation, nerve damage, lack of full range of motion, reaction to anesthesia, development of arthritis, scar formation, or re-injury of the joint or soft tissue.

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, include:

  • 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 or respiratory tract infections, urinary infections, dental infections, 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 to 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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Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/