What is Arthroscopy?
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.” Arthroscopic surgery simply means to look inside a joint.
Arthroscopy includes arthrocentesis but with the ability to visualize, navigate, diagnose and perform minimally invasive surgery of the joint space (arthroplasty). Arthrocentesis is a diagnostic and surgical procedure that is performed to determine the cause of joint swelling or arthritis, including septic bursitis, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis. Also known as joint aspiration and lavage, the procedure uses a sterile needle and syringe to drain fluid from a joint for further examination and to flush or irrigate the joint (lavage) free of inflammatory fluid.
Arthroscopic surgery is most commonly performed on the knee and shoulder joints. They are most commonly arthroscoped because the surgeon can manipulate instruments around them easier than the wrist, elbow, ankle, and hip. Further, they respond well to arthroscopic surgery treatments.
Benefits of Arthroscopic Surgery
Athletic disorders are frequently treated with arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery has virtually eliminated extensive and expensive surgeries, hospital stays, and prolonged recovery periods.
Few advances in surgical techniques have been as beneficial as the development of arthroscopic surgery. An arthroscopic procedure greatly reduces the invasiveness of surgery. A surgeon can make a few small incisions instead of a large incision.
- Less surgical invasiveness improves recovery time after surgery.
- The most common types of arthroscopic surgery include removal or repair of a torn meniscus, removal of loose debris, ligament reconstruction and trimming damaged cartilage.
- Arthroscopy is less invasive and less traumatic to the muscles, ligaments, and tissues than the method of surgically opening the knee with long incisions, also known as an arthrotomy.
- The benefits of arthroscopy include smaller incisions, faster healing, a quicker recovery, and minor scarring.
- Arthroscopic surgical procedures are often performed on an outpatient basis and typically the patient returns home the same day.
This revolutionary microsurgery is minimally invasive. Surgeons position a micro-camera so they can see inside the joint – easily examining, diagnosing and treating problems. The surgeon can operate tiny specialized instruments to perform joint surgery without major incisions.
Post-operatively, some injuries respond best to physical therapy. Others may require advanced surgery for optimum healing.
Arthroscopic surgeons can diagnose and surgically correct:
- A wide range of joint problems such as arthritis and ligament tears
- Almost any region of the knee.
- Shoulder, ankle, wrist, elbow, and hip
How does Arthroscopy work?
A primary tool of this surgery is the arthroscope, a small fiber-optic viewing instrument, which projects images onto a monitor, allowing the surgeon to look deep inside the joint. A camera is inserted into the joint through a small incision of about one centimeter. The arthroscopic surgery camera is attached to a fiber optic light source and shows a picture of the inside of the joint on a television monitor so the operating team is aware of the type of surgical procedure being conducted. The arthroscope can be placed and positioned within the joint to give detailed views of internal structures, providing surgeons with an excellent tool to examine, diagnosis and treat patients.
The fluid is inserted into the joint to allow more maneuverability and to remove any debris. The procedure is performed under anesthesia and the inside of the joint is examined for damaged tissue. One or more other incisions are made to insert specially designed instruments that can treat the underlying problem. For example, a shaver can be inserted to trim the edges of a cartilage tear.
- The arthroscope is a small fiber-optic viewing instrument carrying a miniature lens, light source, and video camera.
- These petite 3-4 mm diameter surgical instruments used in arthroscopic surgery appear large when viewed through an arthroscope.
- The surgeon inserts the arthroscope and surgical instruments into the joint through tiny incisions of about .25 inches each called portals. Incisions result in very small scars. After surgery, most scars are unnoticeable