Arthroscopic surgery is a common orthopedic procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems in joints. The word "arthroscopy" comes from two Greek words: 'arthro,' meaning "joint," and 'scope,' meaning "look." Simply put, arthroscopic surgery is a means to look inside a joint. But arthroscopy is much more than that!
Types of Arthroscopic Surgery
Arthroscopic surgery could potentially be performed on any joint, and as time passes, more and more different joints are being arthroscopically treated. Common types of arthroscopic surgery include:
- Knee Arthroscopy
- Shoulder Arthroscopy
- Hip Arthroscopy
- Ankle Arthroscopy
- Elbow Arthroscopy
- Wrist Arthroscopy
Technically speaking, any joint can be arthroscoped. However, the practicality and the instrumentation available limit our ability to arthroscope every joint for all types of problems. The most common arthroscopic procedures include repairing cartilage and meniscus problems in the knee, and repairing rotator cuff tears in the shoulder.
Performing Arthroscopic SurgeryWhen an arthroscopy is performed, a camera is inserted into the joint through a small incision (about one centimeter). The arthroscopic surgery camera is attached to a fiberoptic light source and shows a picture of the inside of the joint on a television monitor. The surgeon uses fluid pumped through the joint to aid in visibility and clear debris from the joint. One or more other incisions are made to insert instruments that can treat a variety of conditions. For example, a shaver can be inserted to trim torn cartilage from a joint.
Common Arthroscopic ProceduresMany joint problems are amenable to arthroscopic surgery. As mentioned above, knee and shoulder conditions are far more often treated arthroscopically than are other joints; some common arthroscopic procedures include:
Trimming a torn meniscus of the knee
Repairing a torn meniscus of the knee
Treatment of shoulder bursitis
Repair of the rotator cuff in the shoulder
Treatment of cartilage damage in the knee
- Treatment of labral tears in the shoulder
Is arthroscopic surgery safe?
Understand that arthroscopic surgery is a surgical procedure and involves risks. These may include infection, blood clots, problems with anesthesia, etc. These are serious risks and the decision to undergo arthroscopic surgery should be taken seriously. That said, arthroscopic surgery is a "less invasive" procedure, and when performed for the right problem it is often very successful. Ask your doctor for more information about arthroscopic surgery, and talk about the possible risks of undergoing the procedure.