Specially designed surgical instruments are used to remove, repair, or reconstruct the damage tissue. Techniques include trimming tissue, removal of “loose bodies” (fragments of cartilage or bone), suctioning debris, smoothing rough surfaces, and sewing and stapling cartilage and ligaments.
Your arthroscopy experience
Before doing arthroscopy, a complete evaluation is needed to have as accurate a diagnosis as possible. This may include a medical history, physical exam and diagnostic tests. On the basis of these, arthroscopy may then be indicated to confirm the diagnosis. In many cases, your surgeon will be able to correct the problem at the same time as you diagnostic excision.
Your doctor may ask you questions such as Where is the pain? Did it begin gradually or suddenly? How were you injured was there swelling soon after.
Your doctor will manually examine your joint to look for a decreased range of motion, swelling, instability, and signs of muscle atrophy and tenderness.
Recommended diagnostic tests may include routine or special x-rays, CT scans, bone scans, or MRI's Their results may indicate nonsurgical treatment or arthroscopy.
Indications for Arthroscopy
There are a number of reason why your surgeon may recommend arthroscopy after the orthopedic evaluation. It may also be needed to confirm a diagnosis, or to obtain a diagnosis that was not possible with other means. Arthroscopy may also be indicated when your pain, instability, and inability to use the joint persist despite nonsurgical treatment.
Your doctor will indicate which preop lab tests you require, such as blood tests, urinalysis, x-ray, and EKG. You will have either local, regional, or general anesthesia, depending upon the joint in which the arthroscopy will be performed and your general physical condition. You will be advised no to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery, and to wash the area well beforehand.
The exact extent and duration of your arthroscopy is unpredictable until the procedure is underway. It may take anywhere from a half hour to several hours.
A nurse will monitor your progress while the anesthesia wears off and recovery begins. Your joint will be bandage, and possibly elevated, with an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling. You will be encouraged to do certain exercises to improve your circulation and keep the joint mobile.
Home (Hotel) Recovery
Follow your doctor;s instructions about keeping the area elevated above heart level and taking pain medication. You may be instructed to rest and apply an ice pack for the first day. Check with your doctor about when you can take a shower; avoid soaking in a tub or pool. Be sure to continue the recommended exercises.
Follow-up and Rehabilitation
During follow-up appointments, your doctor will inspect the area, remove any stiches, and plan your rehabilitation. You may be shown exercises to do at home, or physical therapy may be recommended. In either case, the goal is to restore your joint to its fullest potential.
Back to General Surgery