Arthroscopy (ahr-THROS-kuh-pee) is a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems. A surgeon inserts a narrow tube attached to a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision — about the size of a buttonhole. The view inside your joint is transmitted to a high-definition video monitor.
Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision. Surgeons can even repair some types of joint damage during arthroscopy,
Doctors use arthroscopy to help diagnose and treat a variety of joint conditions, most commonly those affecting the:
Conditions treated with arthroscopy include:
Arthroscopy is a very safe procedure and complications are uncommon. Problems may include:
Although the experience varies depending on why you’re having the procedure and which joint is involved, some aspects of arthroscopy are fairly standard.
The type of anesthesia used varies by procedure.
You’ll be placed in the best position for the procedure you’re having. This may be on your back or on your side. The limb being worked on will be placed in a positioning device, and a tourniquet might be used to decrease blood loss and enhance visibility inside the joint.
Another technique to improve the view inside your joint involves filling the joint with a sterile fluid. This expands the area around the joint.
One small incision is made for the viewing device. Additional small incisions at different points around the joint allow the surgeon to insert surgical tools to grasp, cut, grind and provide suction as needed for joint repair.
Incisions will be small enough to be closed with one or two stitches, or with narrow strips of sterile adhesive tape.
Arthroscopic surgery usually doesn’t take long. For example, arthroscopy of the knee takes about an hour. After that, you’ll be taken to a separate room to recover for a few hours before going home.
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