COVID-19 Updates: Keeping You Safe + Elective Surgeries + Donating Plasma
- Middlesex Health is open and providing patient care, in person and through Virtual Visits. We have also resumed performing elective procedures.
Arthroscopy (ahr-THROS-kuh-pee) is a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems. A surgeon inserts a narrow tube attached to a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision — about the size of a buttonhole. The view inside your joint is transmitted to a high-definition video monitor.
Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision. Surgeons can even repair some types of joint damage during arthroscopy, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted through additional small incisions.
Doctors use arthroscopy to help diagnose and treat a variety of joint conditions, most commonly those affecting the:
Doctors often turn to arthroscopy if X-rays and other imaging studies have left some diagnostic questions unanswered.
Conditions treated with arthroscopy include:
Arthroscopy is a very safe procedure and complications are uncommon. Problems may include:
Exact preparations depend on which of your joints the surgeon is examining or repairing. In general, you should:
Although the experience varies depending on why you're having the procedure and which joint is involved, some aspects of arthroscopy are fairly standard.
The type of anesthesia used varies by procedure.
You'll be placed in the best position for the procedure you're having. This may be on your back or on your side. The limb being worked on will be placed in a positioning device, and a tourniquet might be used to decrease blood loss and enhance visibility inside the joint.
Another technique to improve the view inside your joint involves filling the joint with a sterile fluid. This expands the area around the joint.
One small incision is made for the viewing device. Additional small incisions at different points around the joint allow the surgeon to insert surgical tools to grasp, cut, grind and provide suction as needed for joint repair.
Incisions will be small enough to be closed with one or two stitches, or with narrow strips of sterile adhesive tape.
Arthroscopic surgery usually doesn't take long. For example, arthroscopy of the knee takes about an hour. After that, you'll be taken to a separate room to recover for a few hours before going home.
Your aftercare may include:
Call your surgeon if you develop:
In general, you should be able to resume desk work and light activity in a few days. You'll likely be able to drive again in one to three weeks, and engage in more strenuous activity a few weeks after that.
However, not everyone's recovery is the same. Your situation might dictate a longer recovery period and rehabilitation.
Your surgeon will review the findings of the arthroscopy with you as soon as possible and may send a written report. Your surgeon will continue to monitor your progress in follow-up visits and address problems.
Last Updated Aug 16, 2018