What is an arthroscope?
An arthroscope is a small tube that is inserted into the body that contains a system
of lenses, a small video camera, and a light for viewing. The camera is connected
to a monitoring system that let a surgeon view the operation while it is being done.
The arthroscope is often used with other tools that are inserted through another incision.
These tools, unlike the arthroscope, are used for grasping, cutting, and probing.
What is arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is a procedure used for joint conditions. Originally, arthroscopy was
used mainly for planning a standard open surgery. However, because of the development
of new instruments and advanced surgical techniques, many conditions can also be treated
using an arthroscope.
What does arthroscopic surgery generally involve?
Although each procedure varies, generally, arthroscopic surgeries involve the following:
You will receive a general, local, or spinal anesthetic.
A small incision is made in your skin.
The arthroscope is inserted through the incision.
Other incisions may be made to introduce other small grasping, probing, or cutting
Light is transmitted via fiber optics at the end of the arthroscope.
Information about the interior of the joint is transmitted to a screen.
Corrective surgery, if necessary, may be done during the initial diagnostic procedure.
Dressings or bandages may be put on the incisions.
The small puncture wounds created by the arthroscope and probing tool(s) may take
several days to heal.
Recovery time varies. However, most arthroscopic surgery is done on an outpatient
basis. This means you can go home within hours after the surgery. Some people get
back to their normal activity within a few days. Athletes and other people in good
physical condition may return to athletic activities within a few weeks, under the
care of their doctor.
Joints most frequently examined via arthroscopy
The joints most frequently examined using arthroscopy include the following:
Conditions most frequently found with arthroscopy
The following are the conditions most frequently discovered during an arthroscopic
Inflammation, including in the synovium (the lining) of the knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, or ankle)
Injuries, including the following:
Rotator cuff tendon tears, impingement syndrome, and recurrent dislocations in the
Meniscal (cartilage) tears, chondromalacia (wearing or injury of cartilage cushion),
and anterior cruciate ligament tears with instability in the knee
Carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist
Pieces of loose bone and/or cartilage (particularly in the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle, or wrist)
Always see your doctor for a treatment recommendation based on your individual condition.