Elbow arthroscopy is technically challenging and prone to
complications especially due to the close relation of nerves and
vessels. Complication rates up to 20% are reported, depending on
indication and how complications are defined. This study analyzes
the complications of the first 100 elbow arthroscopies done by 1
fellowship- and cadaver-trained surgeon.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
From September 2004 to April 2009, 100 consecutive elbow
arthroscopies were performed, and thus consequently standardized, by
1 surgeon in 1 institution. The clinical data of all patients were
retrospectively analyzed for indication-specific complications.
Complications were divided into minor (transient) and major
(persistent or infection).
Included were 65 male and 35 female patients (mean age, 41 years;
range, 12-70 years) with a minimum follow-up of 12 months (clinical
or telephone). The following indications were documented (several
per patient were possible): osteoarthritis in 29, stiffness in 27,
loose bodies in 27, tennis elbow in 24, traumatic sequelae in 19,
and others in 24. No major complications occurred, but 6 minor
complications occurred in 5 patients (5%), comprising 2 hematoma, 2
transient nerve lesions, 1 wound-healing problem, and 1 complex
regional pain syndrome. No revision surgery was necessary.
Complications were not significantly associated with the indication
for operation or the surgeon's learning curve.
This study shows an acceptable complication rate of the first 100
elbow arthroscopies from a single surgeon. A profound clinical
education, including cadaver training as well as standardization of
patient position, portals, and surgery, help to achieve this.