What is arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy uses a miniaturized camera, which is inserted near a damaged joint, to detect and diagnose the damage. If the joint can be repaired during this procedure, then miniaturized surgical devices are also inserted. The orthopedic surgeon can simultaneously see the damage with the arthroscope and repair it with a surgical device.

When is arthroscopy recommended?

Doctors first diagnose joint damage, such as a torn meniscus or ligament, with physical exams, x-rays, CTs or MRIs. The joint may be treated with braces, pain medicine, steroids or other injections, and physical therapy. If these treatments do not bring relief, then arthroscopy is recommended. (Of course, arthroscopy may be done sooner if the damage is suspected to be severe.)

What is the procedure for arthroscopy?

The orthopedic surgeon makes a small incision near the joint and inserts the arthroscope, which is a tube about the size of a pencil. A miniaturized camera in the arthroscope lights the inside of the joint and sends an image to a monitor. The surgeon examines the image and identifies the damage. If called for, the surgeon can also insert a small surgical device through a second incision. He or she will repair the damage, watching his or her work on the monitor.

What are the results of arthroscopy?

Doctors using an arthroscope may make a more accurate diagnosis than they would with other techniques. Combining arthroscopy with surgical techniques, orthopedic surgeons may repair the damage or remove loose pieces of bone or cartilage. Recovery time from this procedure is usually much shorter than recovery from open surgery.