What is Arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy may be one of the most valuable tools modern surgeons have at their fingertips to identify injury and disease. Before the first arthroscopy in the early 1920s, surgeons used less accurate measures to diagnose illnesses and locate damaged tissue. Now, medical professionals can use arthroscopy to identify conditions affecting bones, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and muscles.
During arthroscopy, surgeons view the injured area of the body through the eyes of a tiny, microscopic camera. Below we’ll explain basics of arthroscopy and describe which conditions a doctor may identify during the procedure.
How Does Arthroscopy Work?
To begin the procedure, the doctor will issue a general, spinal, or local anesthetic. Next, a small incision is made in the area. A few other incisions may be needed to view additional parts of the joint or for the doctor to insert more instruments. The surgeon will insert the arthroscope and begin the procedure.
When initially theorized, arthroscopy was merely a method for doctors to view injured areas of the body. Now, surgeons can perform corrective surgery during the procedure. Before surgery, the doctor will usually indicate whether he or she will also be treating the patient’s condition during arthroscopy.
The surgeon will use a high-definition monitor to view the arthroscopic camera’s feed and observe the joint, making repairs if necessary. After the procedure, the incision area will be dressed, and the patient is moved to a recovery room. It has been shown that post-operative pain can be less than that of open surgery.
What Will My Doctor Discover?
Before arthroscopy, the doctor will take a look at the patient’s medical history to determine which conditions they may be at risk for. In addition, some surgeons will examine a patient and review imaging in order to determine the problem. Surgeons use arthroscopy for a final diagnosis and validate their initial assumptions.
Doctors commonly discover inflammation disorders, in the lining of the knee, elbow, wrist, shoulder or ankle. They’re also able to confirm acute or chronic injuries to the shoulder, wrist or knee. Many problems associated with arthritis are also identified during arthroscopy and treated. Meniscal tears or ligament tears may also be visualized and addressed.
How Long is Recovery?
Incisions made during arthroscopy are incredibly small. For most patients, it’ll only take the small puncture wounds a few days to heal. Most patients are advised to remove the dressings from the treatment area the morning after surgery or within 2-3 days. Adhesive strips can be used to cover the small incision area as the patient heals.
Despite the size of the puncture wound, it usually takes patients several weeks or even months to completely recover from a procedure. Recovery depends on the initial problem, the treatment, and patient factors. The doctor may recommend a specific activity or rehabilitation program to expedite recovery. Physical therapy can have a dramatic and positive effect on recovery. Patients commonly return to work or school within a few days after arthroscopy. Recovery time depends on the patient’s preexisting conditions and other factors.