Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery used to diagnose & treat problems inside a joint. It is usually done to evaluate & diagnose a joint problem when physical exams & other tests do not give clear results. The Orthopedic surgeon uses an arthroscope – a thin viewing tool to see the joint surfaces and the tough tissue that covers and cushions the ends of the bones. The view inside is then transmitted to a high definition screen.
Arthroscopy is mostly done on the knee, shoulder, and ankle. It also can be done on the hip, elbow, and wrist.Conditions treated with arthroscopy include:
- Loose bone fragments
- Damaged or torn cartilage
- Inflamed joint linings
- Joint infections
- Torn ligaments
- Scarring within joints
This procedure allows the doctor to see inside your joint by just making a small incision. Compared to Open Surgery (large Incision) Arthroscopy is generally.
- Is less painful.
- Is not expensive
- The recovery time is shorter
- Can be done on an outpatient basis – You do not need to spend a night at the hospital.
Preparing For an Arthroscopy
- Avoid certain medications. Avoid taking medications or dietary supplements that can increase your risk of bleeding.
- Fast beforehand. Since you’ll be under the influence of a suitable anesthesia during the surgery you will have to avoid eating solid foods eight hours before your procedure.
- Arrange for a ride. Make sure someone will be available to pick you up after the surgery.
- Choose loose clothing. Wear loose, comfortable clothing so you can dress easily after the procedure
Post Surgery – What Can You Expect?
Depending upon the procedure the surgery normally takes between 30 minutes – 2 Hrs. Once done, you will be taken to a recovery room for a few hours to recover before you can be discharged.
The small puncture wounds take several days to heal. The pain in the joint will be minimal
however it will take several days for the joint to recover completely.
The operative dressing can usually be removed the morning after surgery and adhesive strips can be applied to cover the small healing incisions.
Your aftercare may include:
- Medications. Prescribed medication to relieve pain and inflammation.
- R.I.C.E. Rest, Ice, Compress and elevate the joint for several days to reduce swelling and pain.
- Protection. You might need to use temporary splints — slings or crutches for comfort and protection.
- Exercises. Physical therapy and rehabilitation to help strengthen your muscles and improve the function of your joint.
Patients can go back to work or school or resume daily activities within a few days. Recovery time for people who have arthroscopy can have many different diagnoses and preexisting conditions, so each patient’s arthroscopic surgery is unique to that individual.