Arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat of conditions affecting joints. The healthcare provider can directly view the internal structures of a joint using an instrument called an arthroscope. An arthroscope is a small, tube shaped instrument that is used to look inside a joint.
Orthopedic surgeons use arthroscopy to diagnose and treat joint problems. It consists of a system of lenses, a small video camera, and a light for viewing. The camera is connected to a monitoring system that allows the healthcare provider to view a joint through a very small incision. The arthroscope is often used along with other tools that are inserted through another incision.
The joint most often examined using arthroscopy is the knee. However, arthroscopy can be used in other joints. These include the following:
An arthroscopic procedure may be used to diagnose and assist in the treatment of the following conditions:
Corrective surgery or a biopsy may be done using arthroscopy. For example, torn ligaments can be repaired or reconstructed. Arthroscopic surgery may eliminate the need for an open surgical procedure.
There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend an arthroscopy.
As with any surgical procedure, complications can happen. Some possible complications may include the following:
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
Arthroscopy may be done on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices. Arthroscopy may be performed while you are asleep under general anesthesia, or while you are awake under localized anesthesia. The type of anesthesia will depend on the specific procedure being performed and your medical condition. Your anesthesiologist will discuss this with you in advance.
Generally, an arthroscopic procedure follows this process:
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Your recovery process will vary depending on the type of anesthesia that is given. The circulation and sensation of the affected extremity will be monitored. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room or discharged to go home. Arthroscopic surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis.
Once you are home, it’s important to keep the incision site clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will give you specific bathing instructions. If stitches are used, they will be removed during a follow-up office visit. If adhesive strips are used, they should be kept dry and generally will fall off within a few days.
Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your healthcare provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medicines.
Activity and the use of the joint may be limited for 24 to 48 hours after a diagnostic arthroscopy. If other procedures are done, such as a ligament repair, your activity and use of your joint may be limited for a longer period. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions. For knee surgery, you may be given an immobilizer to wear. Your healthcare provider may also instruct you to apply ice to the surgical site and to elevate the knee when sitting. Specific instructions will depend on the exact procedure performed.
Notify your healthcare provider to report any of the following:
You may resume your normal diet unless your healthcare provider advises you differently.
Your healthcare provider may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know: