Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

What is the Bernoulli effect? The doctor's report on my shoulder surgery says "pressure was used to minimize the Bernoulli effect." I've never heard of such a thing. What does this mean?

Answer:

The Bernoulli equation comes from Newton's laws of motion. It deals with flowing fluids and says that when a gas such as air flows, its pressure drops. For fluid in the joint the Bernoulli effect means the pressure is lower in a moving fluid than in a fluid that's still.

In the shoulder during arthroscopic surgery, fluid is pushed through the tube of the scope into the joint. This technique helps with several things. First, it clears the joint of any blood obstructing the surgeon's view. Second it pushes the joint open and gives the surgeon more room to work.

Finally lower pressure means less damage in the joint. Each hole that is made in the joint capsule to allow the scope to enter the joint leaves an opening. Fluid can leak out of the joint into the nearby tissues. Keeping fluid flowing through the joint reduces pressure, and keeps the fluid from escaping.

Ian K. Y. Lo, MD, FRCSC, and Stephen S. Burkhart, MD. Immediate Postoperative Fluid Retention and Weight Gain after Shoulder Arthroscopy. In Arthroscopy. May 2005. Vol. 21. No. 5. Pp. 605-610.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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