What is Arthroscopy?
is a procedure to look inside a joint by using an arthroscope. An arthroscope is like a thin telescope with a light source used to magnify the structures inside a joint allowing evaluation and treatment of problems. In arthroscopic surgery, a doctor can use fine instruments which are passed into the joint through a small incision in the skin. These instruments are used to cut, trim, biopsy, grab etc, inside the joint.
Arthroscopy and arthroscopic surgery
How is it done?
generally lasts about one hour and may be done under local or general anesthesia depending on the joint being examined and various other considerations. During the procedure the surgeon will pass an arthroscope through a small cut in the skin and into a joint.
Why is it done?
may be done to investigate symptoms such as pain, swelling, or instability of a joint. An arthroscopy may show damage to cartilage or ligaments within a joint, fragments of bone or cartilage which have broken off, or signs of arthritis. Arthroscopic surgery can often treat and repair joints without the need for more traditional ‘open’ surgery of a joint which involves a large cut. Generally there is less pain following the procedure, less risk of complications, a shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery.
Risks & complications
Although rare, complications do occur during or following arthroscopy. They include:
- Accidental damage to structures inside or near the joint- Excessive bleeding inside the joint, which can cause swelling and pain
- Infection within the joint
- Risks and complications associated with anesthesia, including respiratory and cardiac malfunction
Patients undergoing arthroscopy can have varying diagnoses and pre-existing conditions. Surgeries vary widely and are patient specific.
Risks can be reduced by following the surgeon's instructions before and after surgery.
The surgeon may discuss alternative approaches to the Arthroscopy procedure. For example ‘open surgery’ may be indicated in cases where arthroscopic intervention will be ineffective.
The best candidates for Arthroscopy are healthy adults with no previous surgeries or scarring in the area being treated. The surgeon will make the final determination of each patient’s eligibility for the procedure after an examination and consultation with the patient.
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