Surgery is generally successful. However, it is not possible to guarantee that the surgery will meet all of your expectations.

No surgery is without risk. While every attempt is made to minimise these risks, complications can occur. You should consent to undergo surgery only when you are satisfied that the potential risks of surgery are outweighed by the potential benefits bearing in mind your own symptoms and functional limitations. Dr Smith can offer guidance and information, but the final decision is yours.

It is important that your goals and expectations of surgery are well matched to the procedure that is going to be undertaken. More than one type of surgery might be possible and each may have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Please discuss this with Dr Smith.

Smoking & tobacco use

The risk of complications is higher in those who smoke or use tobacco products and consideration should be given to stopping use before surgery.

Anaesthetic risks

Problems following or during anaesthetics are very rare but include Heart Attack (MyocardialInfarction, MI), Stroke (Cerebro-Vascular Accident, CVA) and a clot in the leg (Deep Vein Thrombosis, DVT) or lungs (Pulmonary Embolus, PE). Although uncommon these can be very serious or even life-threatening.

Unsightly scarring

Scars usually heal without any problems. In the short term they may be itchy and mildly tender, but this settles as the scar matures. By 12 months after the operation scars are usually fine and pale in colour. Occasionally the scar may become hypertrophic or keloid (raised and red). Some people are prone to this. There is sometimes an area of numbness around the scar. This is more troublesome in some locations than others. The numbness often improves with time, but some may be permanent.

Infection (<1%)

An infection at a surgical site is uncommon and typically is mild and superficial and would be expected to settle with oral (tablet) antibiotics. If there is any concern the surgeon or hospital should be contacted. Rarely there is a deep infection which may require re-admission to hospital for intravenous (through a drip) antibiotics.

Neuro-vascular damage (nerve or blood vessels)

Orthopaedic surgery is often undertaken very close to important blood vessels and nerves. Damage to these vessels is very rare but can be very serious.


With any injury or operation around a joint there is a small risk of developing a stiff joint afterwards. This should get better, often with a period of physiotherapy.


There is usually little blood loss in upper limb surgery. Open shoulder operations where a tourniquet cannot be used are most at risk. It is common to get bruising around the elbow after shoulder surgery because of this. Occasionally enough bleeding occurs to make a patient anaemic (low blood count). Blood transfusion is rarely required.

Failure of healing

In any surgery where implants are inserted, or soft tissues or bone are repaired there is a small chance that healing may not occur. This can cause a poor result after surgery.

Problems relating to implants

Implants such as plates and screws, sutures, bone anchors and joint replacements are commonly used in orthopaedic surgery. Implants may work loose and move around if healing does not occur. They may also cause some pain at the insertion site.

Joint replacements

The materials used all wear out over time although most modern devices will last for at least 10 years. Fracture near the replacement, loosening and dislocation of the replacement may also occur.

Change in symptoms

The chance of symptom improvement is high. There is a small chance that symptoms may remain unchanged or get worse.

Re-operation (further surgery)

Any of the problems listed above may result in the need for further surgery.

For all appointments and enquiries, please phone (02) 9587 4720 or email

St George SportsMed
Level 2, Suite 201
131 Princes Highway
Kogarah NSW 2217
(Entry from South St)

Monday to Friday
8:30am - 5:00pm

Fax: (02) 9587 6927

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