Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which an arthroscope is used for diagnosis and treatment of orthopaedic conditions.
Arthroscopic technique is used to evaluate and diagnose a joint problem, and perform surgery to repair the joint. An arthroscope enables the surgeons to view the damaged joint and surrounding soft tissues. During arthroscopy, the arthroscope is injected into the joint through a small incision around the site of injury. It has a light source and an attached video camera which enables your doctor to view larger images on a video monitor.
Arthroscopy offers several benefits including smaller incisions, minimal pain, faster healing and less scarring. The procedure can be done on an outpatient basis without an overnight stay in the hospital.
Some of the most frequent conditions found during arthroscopic examinations of joints are:
- Inflammation of the synovial membrane (membrane lining the joints of the knee).
- Acute or chronic injury: Injuries to the joints of the knee such as cartilage tears and tendon tears.
- Osteoarthritis: A type of arthritis caused by cartilage loss in a joint
- Removal of loose bodies of bone or cartilage that becomes logged within the joint
During an arthroscopic surgery, you will be administered general, spinal or local anaesthesia. A small buttonhole sized incision is made through which the arthroscope is inserted. Other specially designed instruments will be inserted through other small incisions. After the procedure the arthroscope is removed and incisions are closed. You may be instructed regarding incision care, activities to be avoided and exercises to be performed for faster recovery.
Some of the possible complications after arthroscopy include infection, phlebitis (clotting of blood in vein), excessive swelling, bleeding, blood vessel or nerve damage and instrument breakage.
It may take several weeks for the punctured wounds to heal and the joint to recover completely. A rehabilitation program may be advised for a speedy recovery of normal joint function. You can resume normal activities within few days.