Dermal burns associated with bipolar radiofrequency ablation in the subacromial space

Arthroscopy. 2011 Jan;27(1):142-4. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2010.10.013.


This article presents iatrogenic dermal burn injury as a complication of using a vented bipolar radiofrequency (RF) ablative device in shoulder arthroscopy. We have encountered 4 patients who have sustained second-degree skin burns after shoulder arthroscopy. The burns occurred from arthroscopic shoulder surgeries performed from 2004 to 2008. In each case a vented bipolar RF device was used to help perform a subacromial decompression. The burns appeared to be the result of heated effluent from the outflow tubing of the RF device exposed to the skin of the patients. This case report shows that care should be taken to avoid exposing patients to the elevated temperatures of bipolar RF device effluent to reduce the risk of dermal burn injury.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acromion / surgery
  • Arthroscopy / adverse effects*
  • Arthroscopy / instrumentation
  • Burns / etiology*
  • Catheter Ablation / adverse effects*
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods
  • Humans
  • Shoulder Injuries*