Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows doctors to visualise, diagnose, and treat problems within a joint. It involves using a small camera called an arthroscope, which is inserted into the joint through a small incision. This procedure is commonly used to examine and treat conditions affecting the knee, shoulder, hip, ankle, elbow, and wrist joints.
Arthroscopy is typically performed by an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in diagnosing and treating joint disorders. These surgeons have received specialised training in arthroscopic procedures and have the necessary expertise to perform the surgery safely and effectively.
There are various types of arthroscopic procedures depending on the joint being treated. Some common types of arthroscopy include knee, shoulder, hip, ankle, elbow, and wrist arthroscopy. Each type of arthroscopy focuses on a specific joint and may be performed for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
Doctors perform arthroscopy for several reasons. First and foremost, it allows them to visualise the inside of a joint and diagnose the cause of symptoms such as pain, swelling, or limited range of motion. Arthroscopy can also be used as a therapeutic procedure to treat various joint conditions. In addition, it enables surgeons to repair damaged tissues, remove loose bodies or cartilage, reconstruct ligaments, and address other issues within the joint.
Arthroscopy may be recommended for individuals with persistent joint pain, swelling, or instability that does not improve with non-surgical treatments such as rest, physical therapy, or injections. In addition, it is commonly used to diagnose and treat conditions such as meniscus tears, ligament injuries, cartilage damage, joint inflammation (synovitis), loose bodies, and joint instability.
Before undergoing arthroscopy, your healthcare provider will evaluate your medical history and conduct a physical examination. They may also order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, or CT scans to assess the condition of the joint. Additionally, you will be given specific instructions regarding fasting and any necessary preoperative preparations.
During arthroscopy, you will be given anaesthesia to ensure you are comfortable throughout the procedure. Depending on the joint being treated and the complexity of the procedure, you may receive either general anaesthesia (which puts you to sleep) or regional anaesthesia (which numbs only the surgical area). The surgeon will then make a small incision near the joint and insert the arthroscope to visualise the inside of the joint. Additional small incisions may be made to introduce surgical instruments as needed. Finally, the surgeon will perform the necessary repairs or treatments based on the findings and the planned procedure. The incisions are then closed, and a sterile dressing is applied.
After the procedure, you will be moved to a recovery area where healthcare professionals will monitor your vital signs and ensure you wake up comfortably from the anaesthesia. Depending on the complexity of the procedure and your overall condition, you may be discharged on the same day or kept overnight for observation. You will receive instructions on postoperative care, pain management, and exercises to promote healing and rehabilitation. It is essential to follow these instructions closely to facilitate a smooth recovery.
Arthroscopy offers several advantages compared to traditional open surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning smaller incisions are made, resulting in less tissue damage, reduced scarring, and a quicker recovery time. In addition, the risk of complications, such as infection and blood loss, is generally lower with arthroscopy. It also gives surgeons a magnified view of the joint’s internal structures, allowing for more accurate diagnosis and precise treatment.
While arthroscopy is generally safe, as with any surgical procedure, potential risks and complications are involved. These may include infection, bleeding, blood clots, damage to surrounding structures, nerve or blood vessel injury, and adverse reactions to anaesthesia. However, serious complications are rare, and the procedure’s benefits typically outweigh the risks.
Recovery after arthroscopy varies depending on the joint treated and the specific procedure performed. In general, you may experience some joint pain, swelling, and stiffness for a few days to a few weeks. Your surgeon may recommend using ice packs and elevation to manage these symptoms. Physical therapy or specific exercises may be prescribed to restore strength, flexibility, and function to the joint. Following your surgeon’s instructions regarding weight-bearing, activity limitations, and rehabilitation is important to ensure a successful recovery.
After arthroscopy, monitoring your recovery and contacting your doctor if you experience any concerning symptoms is important. These may include increasing pain, persistent swelling or redness, excessive bleeding or drainage from the incision site, signs of infection (such as fever or chills), numbness or tingling, or any other unexpected or severe symptoms. Your Orthopaedic Surgeon can assess your condition and provide appropriate guidance or intervention if necessary.
Meet and talk to our experts !
Arthroscopy is generally considered a minimally invasive surgical procedure rather than a major surgery. It involves the use of a small, specialized camera called an arthroscope, which is inserted into the joint through a small incision. Compared to traditional open surgery, arthroscopy typically requires smaller incisions, resulting in less tissue damage, reduced scarring, and a quicker recovery time. However, the extent and complexity of the procedure can vary depending on the specific condition being treated.
Arthroscopic surgery allows surgeons to visualize, diagnose, and treat various joint-related conditions using the arthroscope. During the procedure, the surgeon can examine the joint’s structures, including bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, to identify any abnormalities or injuries. The arthroscope provides a detailed view of the joint on a monitor, enabling the surgeon to guide miniature surgical instruments to repair or treat the problem. Common arthroscopic procedures include joint debridement, ligament repair or reconstruction, meniscus repair or removal, and cartilage repair.
Arthroscopy is typically performed under anesthesia, which ensures that the patient remains pain-free during the procedure. The type of anesthesia used can vary depending on the joint being treated and the preference of the surgeon. Local anesthesia, regional anesthesia, or general anesthesia may be used to numb the area or induce unconsciousness. While there may be some discomfort or pain during the recovery period following arthroscopy, the actual surgery itself is not typically painful.
Arthroscopy may be recommended for individuals who have joint-related problems that require further examination or treatment. Some common conditions that may benefit from arthroscopy include: