What is it?
Arthroscopy or Arthroscopic surgery is a surgical procedure that is performed to examine a body joint, diagnose the problems causing discomfort and then treating these problems.
The orthopedic doctor usually diagnoses any joint injury or disease through evaluating the medical history, physical examination and X-ray and in some cases, MRI and CT scan might also be needed. However, arthroscopy has proved to be a more effective diagnosis tool at giving a final diagnosis than X-rays and even open surgery at times.
When is it needed?
The doctor might recommend Arthroscopy for the following cases:
- Inflammation: that can appear in the lining of the knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist or ankle, called Synovitis.
- Chronic Injury: some injuries that can affect the following joints:
- Knee: Meniscal or cartilage tears, wear and tear or injury of the cartilage cushion and ACL tears with instability
- Wrist: Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
- Shoulder: Rotator Cuff Tendons, Recurrent Dislocations, and Impingement Syndrome.
- Loose Bodies: usually of bone or cartilage of knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle or wrist.
- Arthritis: related problems can also be solved using arthroscopic surgery.
- Combination Surgery: Arthroscopy has been used in combination with standard surgery to perform the following cases:
- Rotator Cuff Surgery
- Repair of torn cartilage of knee or shoulder
- Reconstructive surgery for the knee’s ACL
- Carpal Tunnel release
- Repair of the torn ligaments
- Removal of loose bone or cartilage of different joints
The doctor will administer the following anesthesia, depending on the type of injury or disease and the joint:
- General Anesthesia will make the patient sleep throughout the procedure
- Local Anesthesia given on the spine will numb the area being operated upon.
The surgeon will create small incisions, usually the size of a buttonhole, near the affected area. The surgeon will then insert an arthroscope, a thin flexible tube with a light source and camera at one end along with thin, specialized surgical instruments through the other tiny incisions.
The surgeon can view the affected joint through a monitor connected to the arthroscope and the joint might be filled with a sterile fluid to widen the view. The surgeon will now diagnose the issue and decide upon the type of surgery to be performed to treat this issue.
Once decided on the surgery, the doctor will use the thin, specialized instrument to perform the surgical procedure to repair or treat the issue. In case of a combination surgery, the surgeon might do it at the same time.
Once the surgery is performed, the arthroscope and the instruments will be removed and the incisions will be closed using special tape or stitches.
The recovery period for arthroscopic surgery is way lesser and less painful than conventional surgical procedures. However, the patient might experience some pain in the joint after the surgery for which the doctor might prescribe pain medication. Other medications like aspirin might also be prescribed to prevent blood clots.
The patient might be asked to come for follow-up appointments after a couple of weeks for evaluation of the joint and also to remove non-dissolvable stitches.
The patient will be advised about the following measures:
- Once the wounds heal, the patient is advised to keep them dry as much as possible, for instance, using a plastic bag to cover it while bathing or showering.
- Avoid activities that can cause strain on the joint.
- Do specific exercises as recommended by the doctor or physiotherapist.