Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure during which the internal structure of a joint is examined for diagnosis and treatment of problems inside the joint. In arthroscopic surgery, a small incision is made in the patient’s skin through which a camera (arthroscope) and pencil-sized instruments are passed.
An arthroscope magnifies and illuminates the structures of the joint with the light that is transmitted through fiber optics. It is attached to a television camera and the interior of the joint is seen on a television monitor.
Arthroscopic examination of joints is helpful in diagnosis and treatment of the following conditions:
During arthroscopic surgery, either general, spinal, or local anesthesia will be given, depending on the condition. A small incision the size of a buttonhole is made through which the arthroscope is inserted. Other accessory incisions will be made through which specially-designed instruments are inserted. After the procedure is completed, the arthroscope is removed and the incisions are closed. After surgery, you will be instructed about incision care, activities to be avoided, and exercises to be performed for faster recovery.
Some of the possible complications after arthroscopy include bleeding, infection, thrombosis (clotting of blood in a vein), excessive swelling, and damage to nerves, blood vessels, or cartilage.
It may take several weeks for the skin incisions to heal and the joint to recover completely. Physical therapy may be prescribed for a speedy recovery of normal joint function. You can resume most normal activities within a few days.