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Orthopedics. 2014 Aug;37(8):e746-9. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20140728-93.

Dermal burn during hip arthroscopy.


Radiofrequency devices are often used during arthroscopic surgery, most commonly of the shoulder and knee, and increasingly in hip arthroscopy. The most commonly described complication is elevation of joint temperature, leading to capsular shrinkage, chondrolysis, and nerve damage. A less commonly reported complication is that of dermal burns from the heated irrigation fluid. There are several case reports describing dermal burns after shoulder arthroscopy; however, to the authors' knowledge, there are none describing the complication in hip arthroscopy that is often performed by surgeons doing limited if any shoulder arthroscopy. The authors report this case to raise awareness that the use of radiofrequency devices can also lead to extra-articular complications because of the effect of elevated irrigant fluid temperatures on the patient's skin. Sufficiently high temperatures were generated inside the joint, causing a superficial second-degree burn from the outflow irrigant. In the course of instrument switching from sucker/shaver to radiofrequency wand, the outflow valve was inadvertently left open with no attached suction while the radiofrequency wand was in use. Most second-degree burns like the one reported require only conservative therapy with cool compresses to decrease the temperature of the wound. The authors did recommend bacitracin ointment to prevent superficial wound infection, however unlikely with no disruption of the skin. The authors continue to use radio-frequency devices in hip arthroscopy, but are vigilant to maintain dedicated suction at the outflow tubing throughout the procedure. Surgeons should take strict precautions to avoid this preventable complication and follow all manufacturer instructions on the use of such devices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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