Arthroscopic Surgery: An Overview

Did you know that more than 1 million arthroscopic procedures are performed each year, making it one of the highest volumes in the United States? As the medical field continues to advance, more doctors are using arthroscopic surgery to treat a variety of different joints. Arthroscopic surgery is a common procedure in orthopaedics to diagnose and treat any difficulty in the joints. Most common in the knee and shoulder, these procedures seek to repair cartilage and meniscus problems along with rotator cuff tears.

During the surgery, a camera is inserted into the joint through a small incision, projecting a clear picture of the inside of the joint onto a monitor. Other instruments are inserted to treat a variety of different conditions. A typical arthroscopic procedure takes less than an hour.  For most same-day surgeries, patients are allowed to leave once the anesthetic effects wear off. Like most surgeries, there is risk involved. The risks are rare (blood clots, infections at the surgery site, bleeding, skin scars) but they increase with the age of the patient.

The benefits of arthroscopic surgery over traditional surgery are tremendous. The small incisions heal quickly and leave little scarring. Diagnosis and surgery can be performed in one single procedure allowing patients to return to normal activity as quickly as possible.  Many believe arthroscopic surgery involves less pain due to the fact that there is less compromise to the surrounding tissue.

The decision to undergo arthroscopic surgery has become prudent for many people with collateral injuries. In most cases, a physician will determine the severity of acute injuries and advance to a treatment plan or prepare for the surgery. It is widely believed that conservative treatment for acute injuries, especially arthritic pain, requires nothing more then RICE (rest, ice compression and elevation). For this reason, before undergoing arthroscopic surgery, make sure to consult with your doctor about how it may or may not help your condition.

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