Arthroscopy is a surgical method that orthopedic surgeons use to visualize, diagnose, and treat injuries inside a joint. The word Arthroscopy comes from two Greek words that are: “arthro” (joint) and “skopein” (to look). The term literally means “to look within the joint.”
What is an arthroscopic surgery?
Arthroscopy is a technique for diagnosing and treating joint problems. A surgeon inserts a very narrow tube attached to a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision — about the size of a buttonhole. The vision inside your joint is transmitted to a high-definition video monitor. Arthroscopy lets the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision. Orthopaedic Surgeons can even repair some types of joint injuries during arthroscopy, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted through additional small incisions.
When is knee arthroscopy recommended?
Your doctor may recommend knee arthroscopy if you have painful condition that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Some reasons for undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery include:
- Removal or a repair of a torn meniscus
- Reconstruction of a torn anterior cruciate ligament
- Removal of inflamed synovial tissue
- Trimming of damaged articular cartilage
- Removal of loose fragments of bones or cartilage
- Treatment of patella (kneecap) problems
- Knee sepsis (infection)
When is shoulder arthroscopy recommended?
Your doctor may recommend shoulder arthroscopy if you have painful condition that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Some reasons for undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery include
- Bankart Repair
- Rotator Cuff Repair
- Slap Repair
- Capsulotomy for Adhesive capsulitis
- AC Joint Resection
How is arthroscopy performed?
Arthroscopic surgery, although much easier in terms of recovery than “open” surgery, still requires the use of anesthetics and the special equipment in a hospital operating room or outpatient surgical suite. You will be given a general, spinal, or a local anesthetic, depending on the joint or suspected problem.
A small incision (about the size of a buttonhole) will be made to insert the arthroscope. Several other incisions may be made to see other parts of the joint or insert other instruments.
Recovering from an arthroscopy:
After your arthroscopy, you’ll be taken to a room to get better from the effects of the general anesthetics, if it was used during the process. Depending on the type of method you had, you may require a temporary sling, splint or crutches to support and guard the joint while you recover. Some people are given special pumps or compression bandages to improve their blood flow.
Recovery advice by surgeons
- Ensure that you elevate the joint and apply ice packs to help with swelling when you get home, only if advised to do so. You should also carry out any joint exercises that have been suggested for you.
- Any dressings which have been done during the process will need to be kept as dry as possible.
- Your wounds should start to recover within a few days. If non-dissolvable stiches were used to close them, they need to be removed after a week or two.
- You’ll normally be asked to be present at a follow-up appointment a few weeks after the surgery to discuss the results of the operation, your recovery, and any additional treatment you may need.