Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat problems inside a joint. Most commonly it is used to treat the knee, hip and shoulder. It may also be performed on smaller joints such as the elbow, ankle, or wrist.
How is Arthroscopic Surgery Performed?
Arthroscopic surgery may be performed in a hospital or in an outpatient facility, but generally, patients are able to go home the same day. Depending on the joint or suspected problem, you will be given a general, spinal or local anesthetic.
Through a small incision roughly the size of a buttonhole, an orthopedic surgeon will insert pencil-sized instruments that contain a small lens and lighting system called an arthroscope. These allow him or her to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint.
The arthroscope is attached to a miniature camera that displays the image of the joint on a television screen. This allows the surgeon to look throughout all areas of the joint including the cartilage and surrounding ligaments in order to determine the exact amount or type of injury. If needed, they can then repair or correct the problem.
Common Reasons for Arthroscopic Surgery
Arthroscopic surgery can be used to diagnose and treat various acute or chronic injuries such as:
- Rotator cuff tendon tears, impingement syndrome, and recurrent dislocations of the shoulder.
- Meniscal (cartilage) tears, chondromalacia (wearing or injury of cartilage cushion), and anterior cruciate ligament tears with instability associated with the knee.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist
- Loose bodies of bone and/or cartilage in any joint including the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle or wrist.
Arthroscopic surgery may also be used in combination with other surgical methods.
What are the Advantages of Arthroscopic Surgery?
Like other minimally invasive procedures, the benefits of arthroscopic surgery include faster recovery times, less pain, shorter hospital stays, reduced risk of infection and less scarring.
It’s not unusual for patients to go back to work or school within a few days, but it typically takes several weeks for the joint to fully heal.
Are There Any Risks?
There are risks associated with any medical procedure including arthroscopic surgery. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, complications occur in less than 1% of all arthroscopic procedures. Possible complications include:
- Blood clots
- Excessive swelling or bleeding
- Damage to blood vessels or nerves
- Instrument breakage
About South Shore Orthopedics
South Shore Orthopedics is a multi-subspeciality orthopedic practice that serves patients on the South Shore and in the Boston area using the latest proven techniques in surgery and rehabilitation. With any procedure, including arthroscopic surgery, we want you to be informed and involved in the decision-making process regarding your care, from pre-operative preparation to rehabilitation protocols. If you are suffering from joint pain, call South Shore Orthopedics at (781) 337-5555 to schedule an appointment.