Original Article| Volume 23, ISSUE 4, P361-366, April 2007

Patient Perceptions of Open and Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery

      Purpose: There has been a significant increase in surgeon as well as patient interest in arthroscopic treatment of shoulder pathology. We hypothesize that patients have a strong preference for arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Currently, there are no data in the literature reporting on how people perceive open versus arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Methods: Prospectively, a total of 202 patients were administered a questionnaire at the offices of 2 fellowship-trained shoulder surgeons, 1 located at a tertiary referral center (center A) and 1 in private practice (center B). The questionnaire asked a series of questions about specific factors when choosing an orthopaedic surgeon and the preference for arthroscopic or open surgery. In addition, 7 short-term and long-term outcomes were listed, and the patient was asked to choose whether open or arthroscopic surgery would provide the best outcome or whether he or she felt that there was no difference. Results: Among patients at center A, 88% would prefer arthroscopy if they were to have shoulder surgery, as would 96% of patients at center B. Among patients at center A, 14% would avoid shoulder surgery if the only option was open surgery, as would 25% at center B. The reputation of the surgeon and institution were the primary factors in choosing a surgeon. Recommendation of a former patient and years of surgeon experience were less important factors for patient selection of a shoulder surgeon. Conclusions: The study shows that the vast majority of patients perceive multiple advantages of arthroscopic shoulder surgery despite a lack of published data to support many of these assumptions, particularly with regard to expected functional outcome of arthroscopic versus open shoulder surgery. Clinical Relevance: Shoulder surgeons should be aware of these perceptions when discussing treatment options with patients. A continued effort should be made to emphasize known scientific data when considering the relative risks and benefits of arthroscopic and open shoulder surgery.

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