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Arthroscopic surgery

Arthroscopic Surgery: Conditions Treated and Procedures

 The goal of arthroscopic surgery is to diagnose and treat a wide array of joint diseases without the need for an open intervention. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally-invasive technique that uses a small camera, a light source and special surgical tools inserted through a tiny (about 7mm long) incision or incisions over the sore joints. With this method patients are exposed to less pain and blood loss, and the recovery time can be halved. Within four weeks after arthroscopic surgery patients can be back to their normal activities, however, they must count on a somewhat longer physical rehabilitation period.

What Conditions Can Be Treated by Arthroscopic Surgery?

  • Joint inflammationarthroscopic-surgery_Small
  • Joint infections
  • Damaged cartilage
  • Ligament and tendon injuries
  • Tissue accumulation in the joints
  • Broken, loose bone fragments

Arthroscopic surgeries are most commonly performed on the shoulders, knees, hips, ankles and the wrist, where joints are most prone to suffer trauma or degradation.

The Arthroscopic Surgery Procedure

As there are a number of conditions treated by arthroscopy, the procedure varies according to the problem addressed. Most arthroscopic surgeries can be done on an outpatient basis, with just a few hours spent in hospital.

 If the operation is expected to be lenghty (around 2 hours or more), orthopedic surgeons usually opt for general anesthesia to avoid the patient’s long exposure to stress and anxiety. If the arthroscopic surgery targets a larger area or a more complex problem, the patient is likely to get regional anesthesia into the spine to numb the body from hip down. If only a minor area or condition is treated, local anesthesia will suffice to spare the body from the side-effects of the former methods.

The affected limb is stabilised and the doctors block the blood flow for better visibility and to reduce bleeding. To create space around the joint, surgeons usually use a special gas or a sterile liquid (saline) pumped inside through the incision.

After the operation it is essential to rest and spare the body part from movement. Compression and icing may alleviate pain and swelling. Do not neglect physical therapy sessions as muscle and joint strenth and flexibility can only be restored through special exercises.

The tree most frequently treated areas are shoulders, hips and knees.

Shoulder arthroscopic surgery aims to treat the surrounding tissues of the shoulder joint, collectively called rotator cuff. Most surgeries are done to repair damages and tears in the tendons, muscles and cartilage and remove loose, damaged parts. Some other shoulder conditions treated are:

  • Shoulder instability
  • Impingement syndrome
  • Bone spur
  • Arthritis 

Arthroscopic surgeries of the hip are most often done to remove a torn piece of cartilageand to repair the labrum. Some other reasons for surgey involve:

  • Persistent hip pain
  • Arthritis
  • Hip impingement syndrome

Knee surgeries with arthroscopy are able to treat several conditions unresponsive to medication:

  • Misaligned knee cap
  • Damaged meniscus (the cartilage in the knee)
  • Injured anterior or exterior cruciate ligament
  • Baker’s cysts
  • Bone fractures

Risks of Arthroscopic Surgery

  • Damage to the ligaments and cartilage
  • Nerve or blood vessel injury and bleeding
  • Permanent stiffness of the operated area
  • Infection

For further information please check out the most commonly performed arthroscopic surgeries.

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