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Can I Watch My Arthroscopic Surgery?

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Updated November 29, 2011

Question: Can I Watch My Arthroscopic Surgery?
Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure used to look inside a joint with the aid of a camera. Most often done in the knee, arthroscopic surgery can also be done in shoulders, ankles, elbows, hips, and wrists. Not all surgery can be done arthroscopically, but the field is developing quickly, and more and more surgical procedures are being done through this minimally invasive technique.
Answer: Determining whether or not you can watch your arthroscopic procedure depends on several factors:

  • The part of the body:
    Generally, I only keep patient's awake for arthroscopic knee surgery. Most other arthroscopic procedures required a general anesthesia. There may be some exceptions, you can discuss this with your physician.

  • The type of procedure:
    Arthroscopic knee procedures that involved more than a meniscus trimming or simple cartilage work, may require more extensive anesthesia. For example, in patients with exposed bone who are undergoing a microfracture, they would usually require more significant anesthesia.

  • The ability of the patient to relax:
    It is necessary for the patient to be relaxed for the surgical procedure. During arthroscopic knee surgery, it is important for the surgeon to be able to manipulate the knee into certain positions. If the patient is tense, or cannot relax, performing the procedure can be difficult.

  • Patient preference:
    Some patients do not want to see or hear anything during their surgical procedure. Therefore, these patients may benefit from a deeper anesthesia.
When I am performing arthroscopic knee surgery, I enjoy having patients watch the procedure on the television monitor. I think it helps the patient better understand the problem, and therefore it often helps the patient with their rehabilitation. Not all arthroscopic procedures, however, a suitable for patients to be awake. You can discuss the anesthesia options with your surgeon.
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