Arthroscopy is the term used to describe a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems. Arthroscopic surgery allows an orthopaedic surgeon to see inside a joint without making a large incision. One of the greatest advantages of a minimally-invasive procedure is that you can offer the patient the following:
- Confirming a diagnosis.
- A visual inspection that is not available by x-ray.
- An opportunity to correct the problem while under anesthesia.
Common Joint Problems Treated by Arthroscopy
The most common joints doctors treat with arthroscopic surgery are:
Arthroscopy can help diagnose and treat a variety of joint issues including:
- Damaged or torn cartilage
- Loose bone fragments
- Inflamed joint linings
- Torn ligaments
- Joint scarring
The procedure is useful when doctors need to get a better understanding of what is causing a patient pain. Then, they are able to alleviate the pain through surgery done with pencil-thin instruments. Considering its usefulness, arthroscopic surgery offers other health benefits that include:
- Precision: Because the procedure allows doctors to view inside a joint with an arthroscope — a thin, fiber-optic device with a camera on one end — doctors can get a better view of what is happening either by looking directly through the incision or by projecting the image on to a monitor inside the operating room.
- Minimal Invasion: Because the arthroscope and the surgical tools used in arthroscopic surgery are so small, the procedure typically requires only a few small incisions around the joint. The result is minimal blood loss and less trauma to the surrounding connective tissues.
- Low Risk: Arthroscopic surgeries have a high success rate, and are generally less risky than traditional surgeries. Since there is less damage done to the body, there’s a smaller risk of complications. It should be stressed that all surgeries involve some degree of risk, including arthroscopic surgery.
- Quick Recovery Time: The few small incisions doctors make for arthroscopic surgery heal much faster than traditional surgeries. It also means less bruising, scarring, and less post-operative pain for the patient. The procedure ensures less scar tissue, which means less pain and stiffness during the recovery/rehabilitation period following surgery.
Arthroscopic surgery has the potential to alleviate joint issues. It is also minimally invasive and involves lower risk to the patient. Additionally, recovery is faster than it would be with a traditional method of surgery.
Preparing for Arthroscopic Surgery
Your doctor will advise you of specific preparations. In general, preparation involves:
- Avoiding certain medications that could increase bleeding
- Fasting (this will depend on what type of anesthesia your doctor orders)
- Arranging for a ride to and from the hospital or clinic
- Wearing loose, comfortable clothing that will be easy to get back into after your surgery
What to Expect
Some aspects of arthroscopic surgery are pretty standard, so you can expect to change into a hospital gown and remove all jewelry before the procedure. You’ll also have an IV inserted into your hand or forearm through which the nurse will administer a mild sedative to relax you before surgery.
If you’re a resident of the Hampton Roads area and are experiencing joint pain, consider seeing one of the orthopaedic specialists at Hampton Roads Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. Contact us today for more information or for an appointment.