Arthroscopic surgeries are a type of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery. This type of procedure can be used to treat joint issues or diagnose issues within joints. If you are considering arthroscopic surgery, below is a guide to help you understand this type of procedure.

What is Arthroscopic Surgery Used for?

When arthroscopy is used, it is not a surgical procedure but an approach. It may include multiple procedures to diagnose or treat a chronic or acute joint condition. This type of procedure can be used for many parts of your body, including:

  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Ankles
  • Elbows
  • Wrists
  • Shoulders

It is a procedure for the joints and can help with diagnosis and treatment. Some of the common conditions treated with arthroscopic surgery include:

  • Impingement syndrome
  • Meniscal tears of the knee
  • Rotator cuff tendon tears
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears
  • Chondromalacia or cartilage damage in the knee
  • Labral tears in the shoulder
  • Shoulder bursitis
  • Should dislocation

The most common uses for arthroscopic surgery are for knee and shoulder issues. These joints offer more space to accommodate the instruments used.

Arthroscopic Surgery vs. Open Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is not the same as open surgery. It requires a smaller incision, which also means a smaller scar and less loss of blood. The recovery is often much faster, and there is less of a risk of infection.

However, there is more room to work with open surgery and easier access to the injured joint. It is better for some types of injuries and often used for placing prosthetic joints.

Arthroscopic surgeries are outpatient, while open surgeries are more commonly inpatient. There is often less need for pain medication with arthroscopic surgery, as well.

What to Expect When Undergoing Arthroscopic Surgery

Expect to go through a basic physical examination before your surgery. This will include documenting your height, weight, and vital signs. It may also include a blood sample.

During your arthroscopic surgery, you will be given the proper anesthesia. You will be put into the correct position for the procedure, which will depend on the joint being worked on.

The proper instruments will be used, including arthroscopes of multiple sizes. Some may have cameras, filters, or even attachments.

A primary incision will be made to insert the arthroscope. Additional incisions may be necessary, depending on the procedure. Your surgeon will complete the procedure, and you will be taken to a recovery room.

If general or regional anesthesia were used, you would need to become fully awake, commonly taking 10 to 45 minutes. After you are awake and steady enough to change back into your clothing, you will be able to leave.

Recovery from Arthroscopic Surgery

Typically, recovery is faster with this type of procedure. You will use the RICE protocol, along with over-the-counter pain killers, in most cases.

If you have been injured or suffer from chronic joint pain, you might need arthroscopic surgery. Now, you understand a little more about what to expect if you undergo this type of procedure.