Arthroscopy is a procedure that utilizes a special piece of equipment to visualize, and diagnose joint damage or problems. An arthroscope is roughly a pencil-sized tool that has a small lens attached to one end. A light on the other enables the surgeon to not only the illuminate and magnify specific structures found inside joints but perform precise procedures to repair damage to joint bones, cartilage or surrounding tissues. Arthroscopic procedures are common on the knees, elbows, shoulder and hip joints.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that requires a very small incision. Through the arthroscope, the doctor is able to view the interior joint structures, including synovial capsules, cartilage, tendon, ligament and bone structures in order to diagnose fractures, ligament or tendon tears, and bone damage.
Arthroscopic procedures are often utilized to diagnose reasons for inflammation in the linings of commonly used joints as well as for the diagnosis of chronic or acute injuries. Some of the most common reasons an arthroscopy procedure to the shoulder, for example, is if a patient experiences recurrent dislocations, an injury to the rotator cuff, or impingement syndrome. Use of arthroscopy procedures for the knee joint include diagnosis and treatment of meniscal cartilage tears, anterior cruciate ligament tears, and general wear and tear or injury of cartilage cushions found within the knee joint.
Arthroscopic techniques and surgical procedures that utilize minimally invasive technologies are commonly used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist, as well as to remove loose pieces of bone or cartilage from major joints.
During an arthroscopic procedure, the treatment area is anesthetized with local anesthetic. In some cases, the patient may be placed under general anesthesia and sleep during the procedure, or receive a spinal anesthetic. The arthroscopy is generally performed in outpatient surgical centers or maybe performed in a hospital operating room.
A very small incision about the diameter of a small coin is made in the affected area. The arthroscope, a long, narrow tube-like instrument with a viewing eyepiece on one end, is inserted into the incision and into joint. After the arthroscope was invented, it was utilized mainly as a diagnostic tool, although today, a variety of conditions, including common knee, wrist and elbow injuries, are treated arthroscopically.
Following the diagnostic or minimally invasive surgical procedure, the incisions are covered with sterile dressings. You may or may not need a stitch or two. Patients require a minimum of pain medication and are often discharged on the same day, following instruction regarding care of the incisions, activities, which activities to avoid, and recommendations on how patients can enhance and aid their recovery.
Orthopedic doctors and surgeons can perform arthroscopic procedures following adequate training and certification in the technique. An orthopedic surgeon generally completes up to 14 years of education and must pass board certified oral and written examinations by the Board of Orthopedic Surgery in whatever country they are practicing.
An orthopedic surgeon can specialize in certain body areas, such as the hands, feet, shoulders, knee, hip or spinal areas. Some specialize in fields such as sports or trauma medicine, while others specialize in the treatment of arthritis. Such physicians are called rheumatologists. No matter where you live, check the credentials of any physician or surgeon through a State, Provincial or National Board of Orthopedic Surgeons to find information about any particular physician, surgeon or specialist in this field.
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