Orthopaedic surgeons use arthroscopy to view inside joints. The minimally invasive procedure takes place through small incisions. It enables providers to diagnose and treat problems like arthritis, rotator cuff tears, carpal tunnel syndrome and ACL tears. Different types of arthroscopy treat different joint and ligament concerns.
Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure to diagnose and treat your joint’s structural problems, which often cause pain, instability or other dysfunction. The surgeon uses an arthroscope, a long, thin tube with a video camera and light on the end.
Orthopaedic surgeons perform arthroscopic procedures. These doctors specialize in conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system.
Surgeons use arthroscopy to see inside joints without having to make large incisions. Types of arthroscopy include:
Providers use arthroscopy to diagnose and treat a range of joint, tendon and ligament problems, such as:
Your healthcare provider may recommend an arthroscopic procedure if you have injured or damaged your meniscus, cartilage, tendons and/or ligaments. Arthroscopy may be an option if you don’t get relief from nonsurgical treatments such as:
You should follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about what to do before an arthroscopic procedure. In general, you should:
Arthroscopy is typically an outpatient procedure, which means you go home the same day. You’ll receive anesthesia, so someone needs to drive you home and stay with you for the rest of the day.
The steps for arthroscopic procedures vary depending on the problem. Most procedures take about an hour, but some arthroscopies take longer.
During arthroscopy, an orthopaedic surgeon:
You should be able to go home within a couple of hours after the procedure. You may need to:
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure. The procedure takes place through small incisions. Compared to an open surgery, the benefits include:
Arthroscopy is a relatively safe procedure. Potential complications include:
Your healthcare provider will review diagnostic findings or treatment results with you on the day of the procedure.
Most people recover faster after arthroscopy than an open surgery that requires large incisions. Still, a full recovery can take months. But, depending on the procedure, you may be able to return to work within a few days.
Your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy (PT). PT can help speed recovery, strengthen muscles and prevent future injuries.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Arthroscopy is a safe, effective way for healthcare providers to examine joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons and perform treatments. These procedures treat all types of joint and ligament problems using very small incisions for a faster recovery with less pain and scarring than other surgeries.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/09/2021.
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