Arthroscopy


Overview on Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure wherein doctors diagnose and treat problems inside a joint. It is a minor surgery and is usually done on an outpatient basis, which means that the patient can go home on the same day itself. Most likely, your doctor may recommend it if you have inflammation in a joint, have injured a joint or have damaged a joint over a period of time. Arthroscopy can be done on any joint. Most often, it is done on the shoulder, knee, ankle, elbow, hip or wrist. During the procedure, the doctor will insert a tool called an arthroscope into your joint through several small cuts to have a look at how much damage is in the joint. They can also repair various injuries during arthroscopy.

Procedure Preparation

Arthroscopy is a procedure in which no blood loss is expected and generally has minimal complications. The primary health of the patient is put into consideration when determining who is a candidate for arthroscopy. It is very important for the patient to be able to tolerate the anesthetic that is used during the procedure. The patient’s heart, liver, kidney and lung function should be adequate. If there are existing health issues such as heart failure or emphysema, they should be optimized prior to the surgery. The patients who are on anticoagulants should have these medicines carefully adjusted before the surgery. Other medical issues should also be controlled prior to surgery, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The pre-operative evaluation of a patient’s health will generally involve a physical examination, blood tests and a urinalysis. The procedure of arthroscopy usually gets postponed if there are any signs of ongoing infection in the body.

Complication

Although it is highly uncommon, complications do occur quite occasionally during or after arthroscopy. The most common complications include infection, blood clots of a vein which are also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT, excessive swelling or bleeding, damage to blood vessels or nerves and instrument breakage. However, they occur in far less than 1 percent of all arthroscopic procedures. Arthroscopy is a very safe procedure and there are minimal chances of any complications but any type of invasive surgery carries a risk of infection. The procedures that last longer than an hour, usually involves the risk of blood clots developing in the legs or lungs.

Recovery

After the arthroscopy is over, you will be taken to a recovery room where you are supposed to rest for about an hour or so. Some pain is expected in the joint post the surgery. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication and exercise. They may also prescribe aspirin or other medications to prevent any blood clots. You should apply ice for the first 24 hours to reduce the swelling. If you have had arthroscopy on your knee then elevate the leg to reduce pain. It is necessary to take all the medications prescribed by your doctor and do not drink alcohol. Most likely, you may need crutches, a splint or a sling for support as you slowly recover. Arthroscopic surgery usually results in less pain and stiffness as compared to an open surgery. Recovery also takes less time. Your doctor will instruct you on what activities to avoid when you go home after the surgery. Usually, the patient can resume work or school within a few days of the surgery. Full joint recovery may take about a few weeks. It may take several months for the patient to go back to normal. Rehabilitation or other exercises help a long way in a speedy recovery. Your doctor will advise you on which ones are safe to do. It is very rare for any complication to take place but you should call your doctor immediately if you find any symptoms of fever, pain which is getting worse, severe swelling and numbness or tingling.

FAQ

  • What are some problems that are treated with arthroscopy?

    The problems that can be treated with arthroscopy include repair or removal of a torn meniscus of the knee, repair of torn ligaments, removal of lose bone or cartilage and reconstruction of the ACL of the knee.

  • What joints are most frequently examined by arthroscopy?

    There are usually six joints that are examined with the arthroscope. These include the shoulder, ankle, elbow, knee, hip and wrist.

  • What are the advantages of arthroscopy?

    Arthroscopic surgery allows faster recovery and less pain as less muscle and tissue are disturbed during the procedure in comparison to traditional surgery. Most of the patients are treated as outpatients and are home within several hours after the surgery.

  • How does arthroscopy feel?

    If you are given an anesthesia, you will remain unconscious and not feel anything during the surgery. If you receive regional anesthesia, your arm or leg will go numb for several hours. You will not feel anything during the surgery.

  • What are the possible risks involved in arthroscopy?

    Although complications are quite rare, they might occur following arthroscopy. These may include blood clots, infection, excessive swelling, bleeding, damage to blood vessels or nerves, clots of a vein and muscle damage.

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