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Shoulder & Elbow

Evaluation of fever in the immediate post-operative period following shoulder arthroplasty

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To determine the incidence and timing of post-operative fevers following shoulder arthroplasty and the resulting investigations performed.

Patients and Methods

A retrospective review was conducted of all patients undergoing shoulder arthroplasty over a nine-year period. The charts of all patients with a post-operative fever (≥ 38.6°C) were reviewed and the results of all investigations were analysed.


A total of 2167 cases (in 1911 patients) were included of whom 92 (4.2%) had a documented fever. Obese cases had a significantly greater risk for fever (relative risk 1.53; 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 2.32; p = 0.041). Investigations were performed in 43/92 cases (46.7%), with a diagnosis being made in six cases (6.6% of the total, two of whom had their diagnosis made post-discharge).


Around one in 25 cases develop a fever following shoulder arthroplasty; most have no infective aetiology. These patients may be being over-investigated; investigations should be performed in patients with persistent fever or on those with an identifiable source of infection on clinical examination.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2017;99-B:1515–19.

Correspondence should be sent to B.M. Saltzman; email:

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