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An arthroscopy is a surgical procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems. It is mostly used on the knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist and ankles.
An arthroscopy procedure involves making a tiny incision and inserting a narrow tube attached to a video camera - called an arthroscope - allowing a surgeon to see the inside of the joint and investigate the problem better. Sometimes it is also possible to fix the joint problem during this procedure by using additional surgical manipulations.
You should consider an arthroscopy procedure if:
• you are suffering from persistent pain, stiffness and swelling
• previous diagnostics such as X-ray and MRI scans could not define the root cause of the problem
This procedure is considered to be safe for most patients and more gentle comparing to the traditional open surgery where bigger incisions are made, and hence has some advantages such as faster recovery and lower risk of infection.
Who is it suitable for
✔ People experiencing severe joint pain, stiffness and swelling
✔ Patients suffering from arthritis, frozen shoulder, a torn anterior cruciate ligament, carpal tunnel syndrome or temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
✔ People who had a joint injury
✔ Patients with damaged cartilage or ligaments
✔ An arthroscopy normally takes from 30 minutes to 2 hours
✔ Most patients can go home the same day or next morning
✔ The complexity and duration of an arthroscopy procedure vary from patient to patient, depending on their individual situation
✔ The length of your recovery depends on the type of procedure and your individual health condition
✔ Most patients can return to work after one week if it is a low activity job such as sitting at a desk
✔ You will need to take at least 2 weeks off work if your job involves physical activities
When an arthroscopy is used?
An arthroscopy can be used to diagnose joint problems by viewing the inside of the joint and assessing the level of damage. This procedure is normally performed when previous diagnostics such as X-ray and MRI scans could not define the root cause of the problem.
The procedure can also be used to treat a range of joint problems and conditions, including:
• repairing damaged cartilage
• removing fragments of loose bone or cartilage
• treating torn ligaments
• draining away any excess fluid
• treating inflamed joint linings
• treating arthritis, frozen shoulder, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), carpal tunnel syndrome
Before The Treatment
Before the procedure you will meet your doctor to discuss your situation and perform an examination to decide the best treatment plan for you. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
• Goals and expectations - Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, expectations and reasons for this procedure. A surgeon should explain you potential risks, recovery and expected outcomes.
• Medical history - You should provide a complete medical history including your past and current medical conditions, chronic illnesses, previous surgeries, traumas and injuries.
• Medication review - Prepare to provide a list of medications that you might be taking including prescription drugs, supplements, over the counter medication and anything else that you are taking regularly.
• Examination - A doctor will perform an examination of the problem area.
• Diagnostics, tests and additional examination - Be prepared to undertake additional examination, diagnostics such as X-ray and MRI.
Before the surgery you will be advised by your surgeon how to prepare for this procedure, which may include dietary requirements and medication directions. It's recommended that you arrange for help during recovery and drive you home from a hospital.
What does it involve?
There are different types of artroscopy, but generally the following is involved:
• This procedure is generally performed under general or spinal anaesthetic.
• The artroscopy procedure will start with making incisions in the area of affected joint.
• Once the incisions are made, a surgeon will insert an arthroscope, a narrow tube attached to a video camera, to see the inside of the joint and either investigate the problem or perform necessary surgical manipulations to fix the problem.
• Drain tubes may be placed through the incision to drain any excess fluid and blood.
• At the end, sutures are applied to close the incisions.
• A bandage may be applied to reduce swelling and bruising.
An arthroscopy normally takes from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
After the treatment
The length of your recovery depends on the type of procedure and your individual health condition. Most patients can go home same day or next morning. It may be possible to return to work one week after surgery if your job does not require any physical activities. However, it is advised to take at least 2 weeks off work if your job involves physical activities.
Your doctor will advise you how to take care of your wound and procedures you have to take during your recovery. You may not be able to do physical work, such as lifting and sport, for several months.
Arthroscopy procedure is considered safe and effective. However, very rarely, complications can include:
• blood clots (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT)
• nerve and blood vessel injury
• swelling and stiffness
• continued pain
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