Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which an arthroscope is inserted into a joint through a small incision. Arthroscopic procedures are performed to treat many orthopedic conditions.
The advantage of arthroscopy over traditional open surgery is that the joint does not have to be opened, thus preserving the soft tissue envelope of the joint. In shoulder arthroscopy, for example, 3-4 small (1cm) incisions are made — one for the arthroscope and the others for the surgical instruments. This reduces recovery time and may increase the rate of surgical success since the soft tissues (skin, fat, and muscles) are less traumatized. Scars are also minimal because of the smaller incisions.
The surgical instruments used are smaller than traditional instruments. Surgeons view the joint on a video monitor and can diagnose and repair torn joint tissues, such as ligaments and tendons. Irrigation fluid is used to distend the joint allowing the surgeon to visualize the anatomy and perform the surgery.
Arthroscopic Surgery - Before and After:
ACL - Tear and Reconstruction
Bone Spur - Shoulder Impingement and Bone Spur Shaved - Decompression
Large Rotator Cuff - Tear and Repair