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Arthroscopy

Whether you’re taking a step or raising your hand, your joints help you move freely. But living with a worn or injured joint can make an active lifestyle painful. Arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and, in most cases, treat your joint problem. After arthroscopy, you may be able to return to many of the activities you once enjoyed.

Two healthcare providers wearing surgical gowns, masks, and hats doing surgery with arthroscope in knee. They are looking at video monitor.
During arthroscopy,  sterile fluid flows through one of the portals. This expands the joint,  giving your surgeon room to work.

Why Arthroscopy?

  • The surgeon can often find and treat the problem during one procedure.

  • The surgeon can often see the joint better than with open surgery.

  • Smaller incisions are used than with open surgery. As a result, you may recover faster and have less scarring.

How Arthroscopy Works

To look inside your joint, your surgeon will use an arthroscope. This is a slender instrument that contains a lens and a light source. The arthroscope and other special tools are inserted into the joint through portals (tiny incisions). Using a camera, the arthroscope sends an image of your joint to a monitor (TV screen). This lets your surgeon see your joint more clearly.

Risks of Arthroscopy

As with any surgery, arthroscopy involves some risks. These are rare, but include:

  • Excess bleeding

  • Blood clots

  • Infection

  • Instrument failure in surgery

  • Damage to nerves and blood vessels

  • A shift to open surgery that would require a larger incision

Online Medical Reviewer: Mitchell, Bryan Sean, MD
Last Review Date: 11/5/2011
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