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Obesity Heightens Risk Of Complications After RTSA

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Obesity is a condition associated with numerous health problems, among them accelerated joint wear. While joint replacement surgery can significantly improve mobility in obese patients, they typically run a greater risk of complications compared to people of normal weight. A US research team from Danville, Pennsylvania has studied the impact of obesity in patients who have undergone reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (RTSA), concluding that their weight problem increased the risk of post-surgery complications.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Geisinger Orthopaedic Institute under the leadership of Dr John D. Beck. Their findings have been published in the April issue of the Journal of Hand Surgery.

The subjects were 76 patients who had RTSA between 2005 and 2011. Within that group, 17 people were obese, 36 were overweight and 23 had normal weight as classified by the World Health Organization body mass index. The review of patient data showed that RTSA did result in a significantly improved motion range for obese people but they were also at a much greater risk of suffering complications. The complication rate for that group of patients was 35% as opposed to 4% for patients with normal weight. Otherwise, the researchers did not establish any significant differences between the patient groups with regard to scapular notching, surgical time, duration of hospital stay, humeral component loosening, postoperative abduction, forward flexion, internal and external rotation, pain relief or instability. The team concluded that obesity did not preclude RTSA but obese patients should be fully aware that they run a greater risk of complications.