Original Article| Volume 31, ISSUE 10, P1928-1932, October 2015

Demographic Trends and Complication Rates in Arthroscopic Elbow Surgery


      To investigate demographic trends in elbow arthroscopy over time, as well as to query complication rates requiring reoperation associated with these procedures.


      The Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) billing codes of patients undergoing elbow arthroscopy were searched using a national insurance database. From the years 2007 to 2011, over 20 million orthopaedic patient records were present in the database with an orthopaedic International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision diagnosis code or CPT code. Our search for procedures and the corresponding CPT codes for the elbow included diagnostic arthroscopy, loose body removal, synovectomy, and debridement. The type of procedure, date, gender, and region of the country were identified for each patient. In addition, the incidence of reoperation for infection, stiffness, and nerve injury was examined.


      There was a significant increase in arthroscopic elbow procedures over the study period. Male patients accounted for 71% of patients undergoing these procedures. Of the elbow arthroscopy patients, 22% were aged younger than 20 years, 25% were aged 20 to 39 years, 47% were aged 40 to 59 years, and 6% were aged 60 years or older. Other than synovectomy, there were regional variations in the incidence of each procedure type. The overall rate of reoperation was 2.2%, with specific rates of 0.26% for infection, 0.63% for stiffness, and 1.26% for nerve injury. It should be noted that because only the complications requiring reoperation are recorded in the database, these numbers are lower than the overall complication rate.


      Overall, the incidence of elbow arthroscopy in this patient population is relatively low and appears to be increasing slightly over time. In the database used in this study, elbow arthroscopy procedures were most commonly performed in male patients and in patients aged 40 to 59 years, with regional variation in the incidence of the different procedures. Furthermore, the rate of complications requiring reoperation was low, with a nerve operation being the most common reoperation performed.

      Level of Evidence

      Level IV, therapeutic case series.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Arthroscopy
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Andrews J.R.
        • Carson W.G.
        Arthroscopy of the elbow.
        Arthroscopy. 1985; 1: 97-107
        • Marti D.
        • Spross C.
        • Jost B.
        The first 100 elbow arthroscopies of one surgeon: Analysis of complications.
        J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2013; 22: 567-573
        • Kelly E.W.
        • Morrey B.F.
        • O'Driscoll S.W.
        Complications of elbow arthroscopy.
        J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2001; 83: 25-34
        • Thomas M.A.
        • Fast A.
        • Shapiro D.
        Radial nerve damage as a complication of elbow arthroscopy.
        Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1987; 215: 130-131
        • Haapaniemi T.
        • Berggren M.
        • Adolfsson L.
        Complete transection of the median and radial nerves during arthroscopic release of post-traumatic elbow contracture.
        Arthroscopy. 1999; 15: 784-787
        • Hahn M.
        • Grossman J.A.
        Ulnar nerve laceration as a result of elbow arthroscopy.
        J Hand Surg Br. 1998; 23: 109
        • El-Gazzar Y.
        • Baker C.L.
        Complications of elbow and wrist arthroscopy.
        Sports Med Arthrosc. 2013; 21: 80-88
        • O'Driscoll S.W.
        • Morrey B.F.
        Arthroscopy of the elbow. Diagnostic and therapeutic benefits and hazards.
        J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1992; 74: 84-94
        • Yeranosian M.G.
        • Arshi A.
        • Terrell R.D.
        • Wang J.C.
        • McAllister D.R.
        • Petrigliano F.A.
        Incidence of acute postoperative infections requiring reoperation after arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
        Am J Sports Med. 2014; 42: 437-441
        • Yeranosian M.G.
        • Petrigliano F.A.
        • Terrell R.D.
        • Wang J.C.
        • McAllister D.R.
        Incidence of postoperative infections requiring reoperation after arthroscopic knee surgery.
        Arthroscopy. 2013; 29: 1355-1361
        • Elfeddali R.
        • Schreuder M.H.
        • Eygendaal D.
        Arthroscopic elbow surgery, is it safe?.
        J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2013; 22: 647-652
        • Nelson G.N.
        • Wu T.
        • Galatz L.M.
        • Yamaguchi K.
        • Keener J.D.
        Elbow arthroscopy: Early complications and associated risk factors.
        J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2014; 23: 273-278
        • Montgomery S.R.
        • Foster B.D.
        • Ngo S.S.
        • et al.
        Trends in the surgical treatment of articular cartilage defects of the knee in the United States.
        Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2014; 22: 2070-2075