Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure orthopaedic surgeons use to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint.
In an arthroscopic examination, an orthopaedic surgeon makes a small incision in the patient's skin and then inserts pencil-sized instruments that contain a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint. Light is transmitted through fiber optics to the end of the arthroscope that is inserted into the joint.
By attaching the arthroscope to a miniature television camera, the surgeon is able to see the interior of the joint through this very small incision rather than a large incision needed for surgery.
The television camera attached to the arthroscope displays the image of the joint on a television screen, allowing the surgeon to look, for example, throughout the knee. This lets the surgeon see the cartilage, ligaments, and under the kneecap. The surgeon can determine the amount or type of injury and then repair or correct the problem, if it is necessary.View More Details
Your doctor will perform arthroscopic surgery in a hospital or outpatient operating room. That means you can go home the same day. The type of anesthesia you'll receive depends on the joint and what your surgeon suspects is the problem. It may be general anesthesia (you'll be asleep during surgery), or your doctor will give it to you through your spine. He might also numb the area he's doing the surgery on.
Your doctor will insert special pencil-thin instruments through a small cut (incision) the size of a buttonhole. He'll use a tool called an arthroscope that has a camera lens and a light. It allows him to see inside the joint. The camera projects an image of the joint onto a screen. The surgeon will fill the joint with sterile fluid to widen it so it's easier to see.
He'll look inside the joint, diagnose the problem, and decide what type of surgery you need, if any. If you do need surgery, your surgeon will insert special tools through other small incisions called portals. He'll use them to cut, shave, grasp, and anchor stitches into bone.
If your surgeon decides you need traditional, 'open' surgery to fix the problem, he may do it at the same time as your arthroscopic surgery.
Afterward, he'll remove the arthroscope and any attachments. He'll close the wound with special tape or stitches.View More Details
While every surgery is different and every person responds to surgery differently, arthroscopic surgery tends to have many advantages over traditional surgery.
There is a lower risk of complications. Since arthroscopy uses tiny incisions instead of large cuts, the chance of infection or other complications is much less.
There is less post-operative pain. No muscles or tendons have to be cut to repair the joint, so pain is usually much more manageable. Fewer cuts also mean that recovery goes much quicker.
There is less scarring. The minimally-invasive nature of arthroscopic surgery means that scarring is kept to a minimum.View More Details