Arthroscopic surgery

If you are having major joint pains or problems, your doctor may elect to do arthroscopic surgery. This type of surgery involves inserting a very thin camera called an arthroscope into your joint so that the doctor can visually examine the joint surface, the cartilage, the bones near the joint, and the various ligaments and other tissues connected to the joint. Arthroscopic surgery can be done on many joints, but it is most often done on the ankle, shoulder, and knee, although it is also performed on the wrist, elbow, and hip. This type of surgery can be done alone in preparation for future surgeries, or it can be done as part of an operation to repair the joint or remove any foreign objects that have become lodged near the joint. Sometimes, it is also done to monitor the effectiveness of a previous surgery or treatment.

One thing to note is that arthroscopic surgery is not always an option for those with arthritis, although many think it would be perfect for this at first. This is because arthritis damages the joint in such a way that it actually makes it very hard, or in some cases impossible, to do arthroscopic surgery. Other medical problems can also affect the effectiveness of arthroscopic surgery, including breaking a bone near the joint or having an infection in the joint.

As expected, a small incision must be made near the joint in order to insert the small camera. The incision is very tiny, however. It’s much smaller than the large incisions used for open surgery, and it’s not as painful, either. It’s cheaper than open surgery, and you should be able to recover from it fairly quickly. Patients are usually admitted as an outpatient, too, so they avoid the costly overnight hospital stay.

The arthroscope itself consists of the camera and a light, and it transmits images back to a monitor in the operating room. These images are very clear, and often, doctors may be able to diagnose a joint issue from these images when x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans aren’t clear enough for a conclusive evaluation. During the viewing, your doctor may also take a small amount of tissue from the joint for a biopsy. If the arthroscopic surgery is being done in conjunction with other surgeries, the surgical team may have to make multiple incisions to insert various other instruments.

There are several other types of surgeries that may require an arthroscope. This includes repairing or trimming soft tissues like cartilage or tendons, repairing ligaments, releasing tight ligaments, and removing inflamed scar tissue. Doctors may also use the arthroscope if they need to shave off bone spurs or calcium deposits or if they need to collect samples of your joint fluid or tissue.

Following the procedure, you will need to have someone drive you home, especially if the surgery was performed on your knee, hip, or ankle. In fact, your doctor may tell you to avoid driving for up to 24 hours. You will be on crutches for a short time following surgery on these parts of your body. If the arthroscopic surgery was done on you’re your wrist, elbow, or shoulder, you’ll need to wear a sling or may have your arm put in a splint. You’ll need to rest the joint for a few days. This may include applying ice, elevating the limb, and taking pain relievers. If the stitches used to close up the incision are not the kind that slowly disintegrate, you will need to see your doctor in a week to ten days to have them removed.

Last updated on Jan 10th, 2010 and filed under Medical Treatment. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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