What might go wrong?
As with all major surgical procedures, complications can occur. This document doesn't provide a complete list of the possible complications, but it does highlight some of the most common problems. Some of the most common complications following surgery for trochanteric bursitis include:
- anesthesia complications
- thrombophlebitis (DVT)
- nerve or blood vessel injury
- failure of the operation
Most surgical procedures require that some type of anesthesia be done before surgery. A very small number of patients have problems with anesthesia. These problems can be reactions to the drugs used, problems related to other medical complications, and problems due to the anesthesia. Be sure to discuss the risks and your concerns with your anesthesiologist.
Thrombophlebitis (Blood Clots)
Thrombophlebitis, sometimes called deep venous thrombosis (DVT), can occur after any operation, but it is more likely to occur following surgery on the hip, pelvis, or knee. DVT occurs when the blood in the large veins of the leg forms blood clots. This may cause the leg to swell and become warm to the touch and painful. If the blood clots in the veins break apart, they can travel to the lung, where they lodge in the capillaries and cut off the blood supply to a portion of the lung. This is called a pulmonary embolism. (Pulmonary means lung, and embolism refers to a fragment of something traveling through the vascular system.) Most surgeons take preventing DVT very seriously. There are many ways to reduce the risk of DVT, but probably the most effective is getting you moving as soon as possible. Two other commonly used preventative measures include:
- pressure stockings to keep the blood in the legs moving
- medications that thin the blood and prevent blood clots from forming
Any operation carries a small risk of infection. This procedure is no different. You will probably be given antibiotics before the operation to reduce the risk of infection. If an infection occurs you will most likely need antibiotics to cure the infection. You may need additional operations to drain the infection if it involves the area around the hip.
Nerve or Blood Vessel Injury
Several smaller nerves travel in the area where the surgery is performed. It is possible to injure the nerves during surgery, but this is extremely unlikely during this type of surgery. Nerve problems may well be temporary if the nerves have been stretched by retractors holding them out of the way. It is rare to have permanent injury to the nerves, but it is possible.
Failure of the Operation
This operation may not be successful. All operations have a chance of failure, and this operation is no different. Even after going through the procedure, you may continue to have pain from trochanteric bursitis. This is clearly not the expected outcome, and the majority of patients are relieved by the procedure.