Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure, orthopedic surgeons use to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint.
In an arthroscopic examination, an orthopedic surgeon makes a small incision in the patient’s skin and then inserts pencil-sized instruments that contain a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint. Light is transmitted through fiber optics to the end of the arthroscope that is inserted into the joint.
By attaching the arthroscope to a miniature television camera, the surgeon is able to see the interior of the joint through this very small incision rather than a large incision needed for surgery.
What are the advantages?
Although arthroscopic surgery has received a lot of public attention because it is used to treat well-known athletes, it is an extremely valuable tool for all orthopedic patients and is generally easier on the patient than “open” surgery. Most patients have their arthroscopic surgery as outpatients and are home several hours after the surgery.
What is recovery like after arthroscopy?
The small puncture wounds take several days to heal. The operative dressing can usually be removed the morning after surgery and adhesive strips can be applied to cover the small healing incisions.
Although the puncture wounds are small and pain in the joint that underwent arthroscopy is minimal, it takes several weeks for the joint to maximally recover. A specific activity and rehabilitation program may be suggested to speed your recovery and protect future joint function.