February 3, 2015
What is Arthroscopy?
Physicians can treat joint injuries through the use of arthroscopy. If your pain does not subside following noninvasive treatments, you may need arthroscopy to repair your injury.
Arthroscopy is a type of procedure that orthopedic surgeons use to repair problems inside a joint.
The word arthroscopy comes from two Greek words, “arthro” (joint) and “skopein” (to look). The term literally means “to look within the joint.” During arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the affected joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.
Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery. This results in less pain for patients, and shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities.
In healthy hips, the ball-and-socket joint is formed by the acetabulum—the large ball-like structure on the top of the bone of your thigh—and the ligaments within the capsule of your pelvis. When these structures become damaged due to injury, the ligaments may be torn and the joint may become dislocated or otherwise loose and rub against your tendons.
At the beginning of an arthroscopic surgery for your hip, your leg will be placed in a traction device that will pull your leg up and away from the table. The surgeon will then make a small incision on the side of your hip to gain entry with the arthroscope. If the surgeon is able to correct the injured area during the arthroscopy, you may not need any additional treatment. Otherwise, your surgeon will be able to develop a customized treatment plan for your injury.
The arthroscopic procedure for a knee follows the same principles of a hip arthroscopy. Your leg will once again be placed in traction, and you will be given a form of anesthesia.
The small incisions for knee arthroscopy will be made in differing areas around your knee, usually two to three incision sites on the top, sides, or even the back on the knee. Your knees are one of the joints most affected by sports due to the repetitive high-impact nature of activities like running, dancing, jumping, or wrestling. These activities can cause meniscus (knee cartilage) tears as well as ACL, MCL, and PCL (knee ligament) tears.
Some injuries—especially those involving contact sports, lifting weights, or other strenuous exercise of the upper body—affect your shoulders. Your shoulder is made up of three different bones, the upper arm bone (humerus), your collarbone (clavicle), and your shoulder blade (scapula). However, the ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and other tissues within the joint are the parts that most often become damaged during these activities.
An arthroscopic shoulder procedure can be used to repair torn rotator cuffs, remove bone spurs, repair injured ligaments, remove inflamed or infected tissues, and even repair recurrent shoulder dislocation. You can expect to have the procedure while lying on your side; your physician will position you based on the view of the shoulder he needs to obtain.
Ankle, Hands, and Wrists
Your surgeon may also use arthroscopy to evaluate any injuries in the dozens of joints in your hands, feet, ankles, and wrists. Some of the common injuries identified by arthroscopy for this grouping of joints include fractured bones, tennis elbow, strained muscles, and torn ligaments and tendons such as the Achilles tendon in the ankle.