March 1, 2023
Did you know an estimated 750,000 arthroscopic knee operations are performed in this country every year (Harvard Health Publishing) AND approximately 1.6 million shoulder arthroscopic procedures are performed annually (American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine)?
What is Arthroscopy?
With the prevalence of these orthopedic procedures in the United States every year, it’s important to know when they’re used and how. The Mayo Clinic defines arthroscopy (ahr-THROS-kuh-pee) as “a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems” which involves inserting “a narrow tube attached to a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision” transmitting a view of the joint to a video monitor. This minimally invasive process allows a surgeon to avoid using larger incisions.
Diagnosing a disease, condition or injury requires examination as we all know. When a physical exam or imaging test aren’t enough, arthroscopy is a real-time way to see the joint, ligament and/or tendon. This can allow for a more accurate diagnosis — whether it’s inflammation, tendon tear, arthritis or even loose bone fragments. Your specialist may take it a step further and fill the joint with a sterile fluid to improve visibility of the view inside your joint.
The benefits of arthroscopy don’t stop there. It can also be used for treatment, including everything from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction to carpal tunnel release. It is sometimes used in combination with open surgery.
What are the Benefits of Arthroscopy?
There are many benefits to arthroscopy. The biggest, and perhaps most obvious, is a smaller incision which helps improve downtime and healing as well as:
- Lessened pain
- Minimal blood loss and scarring
- Quicker recovery
- Shorter hospital stays
There are risks with arthroscopy procedures; however, many are the same or similar to those involved with any surgical procedure. They include:
- Recovery period of weeks or months
- Risk of pain, bleeding, and infection
- Trigger more rapid arthritis progression
What Should You Know the Day of an Arthroscopy Procedure?
Exactly how you’ll need to prepare for your specific procedure may vary, but there are some general guidelines to know on the day of your arthroscopy procedure.
- Avoid certain medications
- Fast beforehand (depending on the type of anesthesia)
- Have a ride
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing
Anesthesia will be used for your arthroscopy procedure. It’ll vary depending on the type you’re having. When local or regional anesthesia is used, you’ll remain awake. For local anesthesia, a numbing agent is injected to block sensation in a specific area. When regional anesthesia is employed, part of your body will be numbed, such as the bottom half of your body. The third possible type of anesthesia is general anesthesia, and this is used for longer and/or more invasive procedures. You will be unconscious under it.
Recovery from arthroscopy is similar to any surgery. It is outpatient. When you get home, aftercare will likely include medication, support (e.g., slings, crutches, etc.), RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate), and rehabilitation exercises.
Recovery should be quicker than traditional surgery, but it varies by the type of arthroscopy procedure and your unique situation.
Arthroscopy Specialists in Cincinnati
If you have joint concerns, our expert team of specialists is here to provide you with the best plan of care for your needs. Schedule an appointment online today.