Insertion of fluid, arthroscope, and instruments through
small incisions (portals).
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Whether you’re taking a step or raising your hand, your joints help you move freely. But living with a worn or injured joint can make an active lifestyle painful. Arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and, in most cases, treat your joint problem. After arthroscopy, you may be able to return to many of the activities you once enjoyed.
The arthroscope is an instrument used to look directly into joints. This makes it useful for both diagnosis and treatment. The arthroscope contains a pathway for fluids and coated glass fibers that beam an intense, cool light into the joint. A camera attached to the arthroscope allows your doctor to see a clear image
of most areas of your knee joint on a monitor.
- The surgeon can often find and treat the problem during one procedure.
- The surgeon can often see the joint better than with open surgery.
- Smaller incisions are used than with open surgery. As a result, you may recover faster and have less scarring.
During arthroscopy, sterile fluid flows through one of the portals. This expands the joint, giving your surgeon room to
work. A camera attached to the arthroscope allows your doctor to
see your knee joint on a monitor.
How Arthroscopy Works
To look inside your joint, your surgeon will use an arthroscope. This is a slender instrument that contains a lens and a light source. The arthroscope and other special tools are inserted into the joint through portals (tiny incisions). Using a camera, the arthroscope sends an image of your joint to a monitor (TV screen). This lets your surgeon see your joint more clearly.
Risks of Arthroscopy
As with any surgery, arthroscopy involves some risks. These are rare, but include:
- Excess bleeding
- Blood clots
- Instrument failure in surgery
- Damage to nerves and blood vessels
- A shift to open surgery that would require a larger incision
Knee problems can result from a structural weakness, overuse, or sudden injury. Or they can simply be a natural part of aging. Whatever the cause, knee problems are often successfully diagnosed and treated with arthroscopy, a technique that allows your doctor to see clearly inside your knee, using only small incisions.
As with similar surgeries, arthroscopy carries the risk of swelling and stiffness, bleeding, blood clots, infection or continuing knee problems.
Your Arthroscopic Procedure
- You may have lab tests before surgery, and you’ll be asked not to eat or drink anything 10 hours before your surgery.
- At the beginning of the procedure, you will receive an anesthetic. It will make you sleep (general anesthesia), numb you from the waist down (regional anesthesia), or just numb your knee (local anesthesia).
- Then, your doctor makes a few incisions (portals) in your knee.
Sterile fluid is inserted through one portal or through the arthroscope to expand your knee joint. This makes it easier to see and work inside your joint.
- Your doctor confirms the type and degree of knee damage, using the arthroscope.
- Whenever possible, your doctor treats your knee during arthroscopy, using surgical instruments such as shavers or thermal devices.
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