Visualizing The Joint With Arthroscopy

Joints form where 2 bones meet to allow bending, twisting, and other types of movement. Sometimes, a joint condition or injury will prompt a doctor to recommend arthroscopy. For many patients, arthroscopy surgery sounds complicated. However, this is just a simple procedure to help visualize the joint. The surgeon will use a device called a scope, a long, narrow tool with a light and camera attachment. This tool allows the surgeon to view, diagnose, and even treat joint disease or dysfunction.

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Arthroscopy advantages

The arthroscopy technique has been around for decades but has gained popularity in recent years as a minimally invasive option. Arthroscopy only requires 1-3 buttonhole incisions, depending on the procedure. The scope goes through the first incision, then operating tools go through the others. With arthroscopy, patients have more minor scars, less blood loss, fewer infections, and faster recovery. The surgery is also cheaper and quicker than open procedures, meaning most patients can leave the hospital on the same day. There are several types of arthroscopies, with these 3 commonly performed.

1. Knee arthroscopy

Many people are affected by knee injuries of varying severity every year. The knee is a primary joint responsible for movement and is prone to damage or wear and tear. Knee arthroscopy can diagnose and treat injuries that limit mobility. For instance, meniscus tears or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears can rely on arthroscopy to assess the damage and remove or replace the ligament. If there is damage to the cartilage caused by arthritis, knee arthroscopy can also help with a total knee replacement.

2. Shoulder arthroscopy

A shoulder injury, such as bursitis, a frozen shoulder, or a rotator cuff tear, severely limits the joint’s movement. Surgery can give the doctor more insight into the joint damage when medication and other conservative treatments fail. In addition, shoulder arthroscopy can help the surgeon remove, clean, and reattach damaged tendons.

3. Spine arthroscopy

The spine is often overlooked as a part of the body that needs arthroscopy. Yet, many joints within the spine are prone to disease. Spines contain facet joints that allow bending and other movements. Between the vertebrae are discs that can degenerate or move out of place. Some people also experience spinal injuries, arthritis, and several other conditions. Since the spine is a delicate structure, arthroscopy allows for safe entry and treatment. Some surgeons rely on arthroscopy to remove parts of damaged discs, install medical devices, remove facet joints, or fuse bones.

Are you a candidate?

An arthroscopy is an innovative form of surgery. However, the procedure is not for everyone. Patients with lost mobility, weakness, or severe pain may be good candidates. People who have tried and failed with conservative treatment may also benefit from arthroscopic surgery. Patients with more severe damage may require open surgery. Other factors like age, weight, and bone structure can limit arthroscopy. Overall, the procedure saves time, reduces infection, and improves the quality of life.

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