Arthroscopic (Key Hole) Surgery
The word arthroscopy comes from two Greek words, "arthro" (joint) and "skopein" (to look). The term literally means "to look within the joint." During shoulder arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.
Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery. This results in less pain for patients, and shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities.
The arthroscopy is carried out using keyhole sized incisions, where only small cuts are made in the skin. The procedure is most commonly used on the knees, wrists, elbows, ankles and shoulders.
If you have problems with your joints, such as swelling or stiffness, and initial imaging tests have not been able to find what is causing the problem, an arthroscopy might be recommended to look at the inside of the joint.
As well as allowing a surgeon to look inside a joint and diagnose, an arthroscopy can also be used to treat a range of problems and conditions. For example, an arthroscopy can be used to:
repair damaged cartilage
remove fragments of loose bone or cartilage
treat frozen shoulder
What happens during an arthroscopy?
An arthroscopy is usually carried out under general anaesthetic. This is where the person having the procedure is put to sleep so that they do not feel any pain or discomfort. Occasionally, a local anaesthetic may be used, where the area being treated is numbed.
A piece of equipment called an arthroscope is used.
An arthroscope is a small, flexible tube that is about the length and width of a drinking straw. Inside there is a bundle of fibre optics. These act as both a light source and a camera. Images are sent from the arthroscope to a video screen so that the surgeon is able to see the joint.
It is also possible for tiny surgical instruments to be passed through an arthroscope to allow the surgeon to treat conditions or problems such as those listed above.
The surgeon will make a small incision next to the joint so that the arthroscope can be inserted. One or more small incisions will also be made to allow an examining probe or, if necessary, surgical instruments, to be inserted.
An arthroscopy is usually performed on a day-case basis, which means that the person being treated is able to go home on the same day as the surgery.
An arthroscopy is usually a safe type of surgery and the risk of serious complications developing is very low (less than 1 in a 100).
However, possible complications include infection and accidental damage to nerves near the affected joint.
Dr Vinod Kumar Abu Dhabi
Shoulder Surgeon Abu Dhabi
NMC Royal Hospital
Advantages of Arthroscopic Surgery
Less Post-operative pain
Faster healing time
Reduced risk of infection
It can be performed on a day-case /overnight stay basis, which means that you do not have to spend days in hospital
You will be able to resume normal activities more quickly
Better and more thorough examination of the joint by the surgeon