What Is Arthroscopic Surgery (Arthroscopy) ?
Arthroscopic surgery refers to procedures in which orthopaedic surgeons operate on joints through small incisions rather than through the single large incision adopted in traditional open surgery. Using an arthroscope, a thin, tubular instrument that contains a light source and specialized lenses, surgeons can illuminate and magnify the internal structure of joints. Because arthroscopic surgery uses small incisions, recovery is usually less painful than traditional surgery. It also has fewer complications, requires a shorter hospital stay (day surgery), is less costly and allows a faster recovery.
About 85% of arthroscopic procedures are done on the knee joint, and about 10% involve the shoulder. Arthroscopic surgery can be done on the ankle, elbow, wrist and hip.
What Arthroscopy is Used For
Our doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery for one or more of the following reasons:
- To remove small bits of bone or cartilage that are floating in the joint space
- To repair or remove torn ligaments
- To remove damaged cartilage
- To remove inflamed joint lining (synovium)
- To reattach a bone fragment that has broken off the end of a bone and is in a joint
- To look at the joint directly, and to take a sample of joint tissue when the cause of knee symptoms is not clear
As part of your preparation for surgery, our doctor will review any allergies you have and your medical and surgical history.
You need to fast 6 hours before your surgery. Dress in casual clothes for your trip to the hospital, and leave your jewelery at home. Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery or simply take a taxi.
How Arthroscopy is Done
Arthroscopic surgery takes place in a hospital operating room or outpatient surgical suite.
When you arrive for surgery, you will remove your clothing and put on a hospital gown. A nurse will check your pulse, blood pressure and temperature. An intravenous (IV) line will be placed in your arm. The IV administers fluid and medications directly into a vein.
In the operating room, the skin over the affected joint will be cleaned thoroughly. Your body will be positioned to give the surgeon the best access to your affected joint. For example, for knee surgery, you may need to lie down with your knee bent. For shoulder surgery, you may either lie on your side or sit.
You will be given anaesthesia to make you comfortable during the procedure. Arthroscopic surgery can be done under general anesthesia.
The surgeon makes a small incision in your joint and inserts the arthroscope. Two additional incisions are made for an irrigation device and surgical instruments.
An arthroscope used for surgery on the knee joint is about the width of a pencil (4 millimeters in diameter). The incision is about the size of a buttonhole. For smaller joints, such as the wrist and ankle, a smaller arthroscope is used.
Arthroscopic surgery usually lasts about one hour. When our surgeon finishes repairing your joint, he closes the incisions with stitches or covers the incisions with sterile dressings. In many cases, sutures are not needed because the incisions are so small.
You will be taken to the recovery room, where the medical team will monitor your condition. You may have a large bandage on your joint. After a short period (about one hour for knee surgery), you probably will be stable enough to be transferred to a hospital room. In cases of same-day surgery, you will be allowed to go home once you have recovered from the effects of anaesthesia.
In the days following your surgery, keep the area of your incisions clean and dry. Change your bandages as directed by our doctor. Rest your joint, elevate it and apply ice packs as you have been instructed. Follow the rehabilitation program developed by your doctor and physical therapist.
Our doctor will tell you when to return for a follow-up office visit. At this visit, the doctor removes any sutures (stitches) and assesses the condition of your joint. Additional visits may be scheduled based on the specific type of surgery and your progress.
When To Call Us?
If you wish to
- Discuss this further
- Have a second opinion
- Follow up with us post-operatively