The impact of chronic steroid use on early postoperative complications in shoulder surgery

Keith T. Aziz, Matthew J. Best, Mark Ren, Suresh K. Nayar, R. Timothy Kreulen, Hari Om Gupta, Uma Srikumaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Chronic steroid use has been associated with poor healing and worse long-term outcomes in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery, but the specific risk profile and short-term complications related to chronic steroids in patients undergoing outpatient shoulder surgery are inadequately defined. The purpose of this study is to characterize the effects of chronic steroids on 30-day post-operative complications following arthroscopic and open shoulder surgery. Methods: The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program was used to identify patients who underwent arthroscopic and open rotator cuff repair, shoulder stabilization, and associated procedures from 2011 to 2018. Patients on chronic steroids were compared with patients not on chronic steroids. Demographic data and 30-day postoperative complications were analyzed. Multivariable logistic regression was used to isolate the effects of chronic steroid use on postoperative complications. Results: We identified 99,970 patients who underwent shoulder surgery during this period, of which 1.7% (1,662 patients) were on chronic steroids. Patients on chronic steroids were older (58.3 ± 0.30vs52.1 ± 0.05 years, p < 0.01), had higher average BMI (30.6 vs 30.1, p = 0.02), and were more likely to be female (54.9%vs38.0%, p < 0.01) and white (76.2%vs73.1%, p < 0.01). Patients on steroids had a higher American Society of Anesthesiologists class, and higher rates of diabetes, CHF, COPD, hypertension, bleeding disorders, and functionally dependency (all P < 0.01). Patients on chronic steroids were less likely to smoke (P < 0.01). Multivariable logistic regression revealed that chronic steroid use was an independent risk factor for major (OR 2.20[1.51–3.21], p < 0.001), minor (OR 2.32[1.13–3.2], p < 0.001), and infectious complications (OR 1.90[1.13–3.2], p = 0.01). Conclusions: Preoperative chronic steroid use is independently associated with increased odds of major, minor, and infectious complications after open and arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, shoulder stabilization, and associated procedures. Patients on chronic steroids should be counseled about their increased risk for these complications, and both preoperative risk stratification and optimization should be employed to minimize perioperative risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalPhysician and Sportsmedicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Chronic steroids
  • complications
  • risk factor
  • rotator cuff
  • shoulder stabilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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