Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to inspect, diagnose, and repair problems inside a joint.
During elbow arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your elbow joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments, which are introduced through small key hole cuts.Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, the surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for open surgery.
This results in less pain for patients, less joint stiffness, and often shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities.
Elbow arthroscopy has been performed since the 80s. It has made diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from surgery easier and faster than was once thought possible. Improvements to elbow arthroscopy occur every year as new instruments and techniques are being developed.
When is Elbow Arthroscopy recommended?
Your doctor may recommend elbow arthroscopy if you have a painful condition that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Nonsurgical treatment includes rest, physical therapy, and medications or injections that can reduce inflammation. Injury, overuse, and age-related wear and tear are responsible for most elbow problems. Elbow arthroscopy may relieve painful symptoms of many problems that damage the cartilage surfaces and other soft tissues surrounding the joint. Elbow arthroscopy may also be recommended to remove loose pieces of bone and cartilage, or release scar tissue that is blocking motion.Common arthroscopic procedures include:Treatment of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)Removal of loose bodies (loose cartilage and bone fragments)Release of scar tissue to improve range of motionTreatment of osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis)Treatment of osteochondritis dissecans (cartilaginous injury/problem inside the elbow)
What does the procedure involve?
During this procedure,the elbow joint is filled with fluid. The fluid helps the surgeon to see more clearly, the structures of your elbow through the camera on the arthroscope. This lessens the risk of injury to the blood vessels and nerves surrounding your elbow joint. Your surgeon will make several small incisions to introduce the arthroscope and small instruments into the joint.Fluid flows through the arthroscope to keep the view clear and control any bleeding. Images from the arthroscope are projected on the video screen showing your surgeon the inside of your elbow and any problems. Your surgeon will evaluate the joint before beginning any specific treatments. If indicated, the entire joint will be evaluated, which may require a total of four to five very small keyhole cuts.Once the problem is clearly identified, your surgeon will insert other small instruments through separate incisions to repair it. Specialized instruments are used for tasks like shaving, cutting, grasping, suture passing, and knot tying. In many cases, special devices are used to anchor stitches into bone. The arthroscopy incisions are usually stitched or covered with skin tapes at the end of the surgery. An absorbent dressing is applied to the elbow. Depending upon the procedure, your surgeon will place either an additional soft dressing that will allow movement or a plaster splint that will restrict movement and better protect the elbow.
What is the recovery & rehabilitation after this procedure?
Rehabilitation plays an important role in getting you back to your daily activities. An exercise program will help you regain elbow and forearm motion and strength. Your surgeon will develop a rehabilitation plan based on the surgical procedure that was performed.Some basic exercises may begin at home a few days following surgery. In more advanced surgeries, physical therapy is often prescribed a bit later, to facilitate motion, strength, and return of function of the elbow. The type and duration of therapy will depend on the type of problem you have and the type of surgery you required.Return to driving, basic activities of daily living, and return to work will depend on the type of surgery you required and should be discussed with your doctor prior to surgery.
Dr Vinod Kumar cochin
Elbow surgeon cochin
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The treatments described are for information and educational purposes only. This is not to be taken as medical advice and they are in no way intended to replace a consultation with your doctor.