What is Arthroscopic Surgery?
Arthroscopic Surgery, also called arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows an orthopedic surgeon to treat joint injuries and disease using an arthroscope through small incisions in the skin.
Arthroscopy is a way to avoid making long skin incisions. While the long incisions allow surgeons to view the joint entirely, the subsequent disruption of tissue created long healing times, increased risk of infection and resulted in long scars.
Arthroscopic Surgery Procedure
Arthroscopic surgery avoids long, invasive incisions by using an arthroscope, a small tube-like instrument that allows the surgeon to see inside the joint. The arthroscope is inserted into the joint through a short incision generally less than 1/4″ – 1/2″. Several small incisions may be made to see other parts of the joint or to insert instruments. The arthroscope uses a camera that projects the image of the joint onto a monitor.
The surgeon can view the joint, and its structures, including cartilage, ligaments and surrounding tissue and identify the problem. The surgeon then may be able to use specially designed instruments and implantable fixation devices to repair conditions or remove any damaged bone or tissue.
What are Common Arthroscopic Procedures?
Sports injuries are often repairable with arthroscopy. Some common procedures frequently repaired arthroscopically include; ligament tears, meniscus tears, damaged cartilage and loose bodies in the knee and shoulder. Other potentially treatable problems include rotator cuff tears, labrum(cartilage) tears, inflammation, and recurrent shoulder dislocations.
Benefits of Arthroscopic Surgery
Because it is minimally invasive, arthroscopy offers many benefits to the patient over traditional surgery:
- No cutting of muscles or tendons
- Less bleeding during surgery
- Less scarring
- Smaller incisions
- Quicker recovery and return to regular activities
- Faster and more comfortable rehabilitation
Arthroscopic Surgery Recovery
Arthroscopic surgery rarely takes more than an hour or two for isolated injuries. Most patients who have arthroscopic surgery go home the same day.
The small skin incision wounds take several days to heal. Several follow-up appointments may be necessary. Typically, during the first of these, the physician removes the sutures, tape or stitches. The patient can usually resume daily activities within a few days, but the injury may require several weeks to months to recover fully.
Is Arthroscopic Surgery Right For Me?
While arthroscopy offers many benefits over a traditional open procedure, it is not for everybody. Some conditions, especially those that are not readily visible with the arthroscopic camera, may be better suited for traditional surgery. Your doctor will decide which type of procedure is right for you.