Arthroscopy is a specialized procedure used to view, diagnose and treat joint disease and malfunction. An orthopaedic surgeon makes a small incision to allow the insertion of an arthroscope, a narrow tube-shaped instrument connected to a video camera that illuminates and magnifies the intricate structures within and surrounding the joints. It allows the surgeon to examine the damage in and around the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle or wrist on a video screen.
Arthroscopic surgery is tremendously effective in the diagnosis and treatment of osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as injuries within the joints and related bones, cartilage, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Arthroscopy can be used to repair cartilage tears and/or deterioration and ligament damage, and to remove bone or cartilage fragments, foreign material or inflamed tissue, and to perform biopsies.
Arthroscopic surgery typically involves less pain, trauma, infection risk and recovery time than traditional (a.k.a. “open”) surgery, and is frequently done as an outpatient procedure, meaning that even though it is still performed under general, local or spinal anesthesia in a hospital or outpatient surgical center, the patient can usually return home the same day. Therefore, arthroscopy can be a superior option for patients whose conditions do not require open surgery.