Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure during which the internal structure of a joint is examined to diagnosis and treat problems inside the joint.
Arthroscopic examination of joints is helpful in diagnosis and treatment of the following conditions:
- Inflammation: Synovitis, the inflammation of the lining of the knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist or ankle
- Acute or chronic injury: Injuries to the shoulder, knee and wrist joint such as cartilage tears, tendon tears, carpal tunnel syndrome
- Osteoarthritis: A type of arthritis caused by cartilage loss in a joint
- Removal of loose bodies of bone or cartilage that becomes logged within the joint
- Arthoscopic examinations may also be used to provide guidance for other surgical procedures.
Anesthesia and a dye are administered prior to the examination. During an arthroscopy, a small incision is made in the patient’s skin through which a pencil-sized camera and a lighting system (arthroscope) are passed. The arthroscope magnifies and illuminates the structures of the joint and transmits the images to a monitor where they can be viewed by the operating surgeons. Once the procedure is complete, the arthroscope is removed and the incisions are closed.
Some of the possible complications after arthroscopy include infection, phlebitis (clotting of blood in vein), excessive swelling, bleeding, blood vessel or nerve damage and instrument breakage.
It may take days for the puncture wounds to heal and weeks for the joint to recover completely. A rehabilitation program may be advised for a speedy recovery of normal joint function. Children can resume normal activities and return to school within a few days.