Arthroscopic surgery, otherwise known as arthroscopy, is a surgical procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to look at joints, diagnose problems, and provide treatment. Its minimally-invasive approach has revolutionized the way joint damage can be treated and repaired. Patients benefit from faster recovery times, shorter hospital stays, and less scarring. From ankles and wrists to knees and shoulders, arthroscopic surgery is helping patients get moving again.
What is arthroscopic surgery?
During arthroscopic surgery, an orthopaedic surgeon will make small incisions, about ¼” in diameter, near the problematic joint. The surgeon will then pump a sterile solution into one of the incisions, inflating the joint and giving him or her a better view – and more room to work. The surgeon then inserts a small tube full of optical fibers and lenses into one of the incisions. This tube is called an arthroscope. The arthroscope is attached to a video camera, allowing the interior of the joint – like the ligaments and cartilage – to be magnified and broadcast onto a video screen.
Arthroscopes vary in size depending on the joint for which they are used. If the surgeon is viewing a knee, the arthroscope will be approximately 5mm in diameter. For a wrist, it may be as small as 0.5mm in diameter.
The surgeon will be able to view what he or she is doing below the skin on the video screen. If the arthroscopy is being performed to diagnose a problem, the incisions will be closed using either absorbable or non-absorbable sutures as soon as the surgeon is certain of the cause of your issue.
If the surgery is being performed to treat a diagnosed problem, small instruments will be inserted through the incisions to repair the issue. These tools are specialized for every task needed, from anchoring stitches to the bone to tying knots. Once the work is complete, the surgeon will again close the incisions with sutures.
Why would I need arthroscopic surgery?
Arthroscopic surgery can treat inflammation, torn ligaments and tendons, loose bone or cartilage, and even some diseases. If you have a joint issue, there is a good chance arthroscopic surgery can diagnose and treat it. While knee and shoulder arthroscopies are the most common, arthroscopic surgery can be performed on any joint.
It can be used to treat:
Torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
Torn meniscus cartilage
Damaged meniscus (requiring extensive repair)
New cartilage stimulation (known as microfracture)
Cartilage transfer (known as autologous chondrocyte implantation)
Torn rotator cuff
Loose cartilage bodies
Snapping hip syndrome
Posterior ankle pain
Scar tissue or loose debris
Loose cartilage bodies or debris
What are the benefits of arthroscopic surgery?
While every surgery is different and every person responds to surgery differently, arthroscopic surgery tends to have many advantages over traditional surgery.
- There is a lower risk of complications. Since arthroscopy uses tiny incisions instead of large cuts, the chance of infection or other complications is much less.
- There is less post-operative pain. No muscles or tendons have to be cut to repair the joint, so pain is usually much more manageable. Fewer cuts also mean that recovery goes much quicker.
- There is less scarring. The minimally-invasive nature of arthroscopic surgery means that scarring is kept to a minimum.
What if I think arthroscopic surgery is for me?
Arthroscopy has transformed the way orthopaedic surgeons can diagnose and treat joint issues. It offers safer, minimally-invasive surgeries with less pain and recovery time.
The Board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons at Countryside Orthopaedics have years of experience and expertise in arthroscopic surgery. Our physicians specialize in different body areas so that we can offer you a specialist for your unique joint issue – no matter what it happens to be. If you are having joint pain or mobility problems, contact us today to schedule an evaluation. We’ll help you get back to the activities you love.