What is arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy is a method used for the diagnosis and treatment of joint problems. Arthroscopy makes it possible to visualize inside a joint without making large incisions, as well as to repair specific joint damage during the process, using specific surgical instruments.

Why is it performed?

The procedure is performed by physicians for the diagnosis of multiple joint pathologies. In general, the most frequent arthroscopies are the following:

  • Knee arthroscopy
  • Ankle arthroscopy
  • Hip arthroscopy
  • Shoulder arthroscopy
  • Elbow arthroscopy
  • Wrist arthroscopy

Arthroscopy helps treat or diagnose conditions such as torn ligaments, damaged cartilage, meniscus repair, removals or loose bone fragments. In addition, it is also used in different surgeries, such as hip or shoulder surgery.

Arthroscopy offers great advantages over open surgery.

What does the examination feel like?

The duration of arthroscopy may vary depending on the surgical technique to be used, or the type of condition the patient has.

Depending on the condition, the procedure will be performed under local anesthesia, in which the patient will be awake and will only have some slight sensations in the joint. Under regional anesthesia, the patient will also be awake, but totally insensitive, and under general anesthesia, the patient will not be conscious.

What does it consist of?

To perform the procedure the surgeon must make a small incision, through which a thin tube connected to a fiber optic video camera will be inserted. This camera will show the specialist the inside of the joint, which can be viewed on a high-definition video monitor.

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It is a minimally invasive procedure, fast and with minimum possible complications, improving the technique with respect to traditional open surgery.

Preparation for arthroscopy

Arthroscopy can be performed on an outpatient basis and it is not necessary to take any medication beforehand, although it is necessary to consult with the specialist in the event that the patient is taking any type of medication.

Prior to the procedure, the patient must remain fasting between six and twelve hours, depending on what the specialist indicates.

Post-procedure care

Recovery time may vary, but as a general rule, daily activities can be resumed within a few days. More physically demanding activities usually require a few weeks.

In some cases, the patient may require a rehabilitation process, with the help of a specialist in physiotherapy. In any case, recovery from arthroscopy is always easier and less painful than open surgery.

Alternatives to this treatment

The only alternative, which is used only in more serious cases, is conventional open surgery, which may require the implantation of a prosthesis. This surgery, as mentioned, is more invasive and has a longer postoperative period.