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Awake shoulder surgery or awake elbow surgery refers to surgery on the shoulder or the elbow with the patient awake under regional anaesthesia. Traditionally surgery to the shoulder and elbow was performed under general anesthetic. Regional anaesthetic blocks, where the anaesthetists inject local anaesthetic agents around the nerves of the upper limb, are often added to general anaesthetics to provide pain relief during and after surgery. More recently, technology and anaesthetic skill has advanced to allow surgeons to perform many types of upper limb surgery with patients awake under regional anaesthesia. Awake surgery can be performed with or without added sedation. Not all conditions can be treated awake and we will explain this in clinic during your consultation.

Common conditions that we treat with awake surgery include: frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tears, shoulder dislocation, tennis elbow.

We are passionate about offering awake  surgery for our patients where appropriate as we believe there are several benefits for patients including, pain relief, faster recovery, and less risk of nausea and vomiting after surgery.

In the video below my Anaesthetic colleague Dr. Rony Berrebi and I discuss awake surgery, what it is, and the many benefits for patients:

For an idea of what being awake for surgery is like from a patient’s perspective you can have a look at the videos below:

A patient describes having being awake for surgery at The Lister Hospital

A patient answers questions during surgery at BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

For additional information please read the following patient information leaflet from the Royal College of Anaesthetists here.

Please also have a look at the following patient information video from Regional Anaesthesia UK (RAUK):

Please also see our NHS service features in the Evening Standard:

Awake shoulder surgery

Nick Ferran @ Shoulder & Elbow London Ltd

Clinics in:

Chiswick – Harley Street – Harrow – St. Johns Wood