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Arthroscopy - What All Can It Treat?

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, Diploma in Orthopaedics, DNB - Orthopedics/Orthopedic Surgery
Orthopedic Doctor, Nagpur  •  19years experience
Arthroscopy - What All Can It Treat?

Arthroscopy has brought about a revolutionary change in the way doctors visualize, diagnose, and then treat problems in knee joints, elbow joints, shoulder joints, ankle joints, and hip joints. For performing Arthroscopy, the doctor makes an incision on the skin of the patient and inserts a slender instrument through the incision. The instrument contains a small lens along with a lighting system to illuminate and magnify structures inside the joint. This instrument is known as an arthroscope, and it also contains a miniature camera.

With the help of the camera, the surgeon can visualize the entire interior chambers of the joint. So, the primary benefit of Arthroscopy lies in the visualization and treatment of various joints through a very small incision. This implies that the doctor does not need to make a large incision or cut open the joint for surgery.

The camera displays all the images on a television screen that helps the surgeon to look for problems such as tears, scars, inflammations, etc., inside the joint. He can see the ligaments, cartilage, stuff under the kneecap, etc., to determine the type and amount of injury. He can proceed to repair or rectify the problem accordingly.

What Is the Benefit of Arthroscopy?

Before Arthroscopy, doctors used to diagnose joint diseases and injuries with the help of physical examination, medical history, X-ray, MRI, and CT scan. However, such diagnosis is usually not as perfect as a diagnosis made by looking through the arthroscope and into the joint cavity.

Joints like shoulder, knee, hip, wrist, etc., may suffer from a number of diseases, apart from injuries. These can damage not only bones, but also ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and muscles. Diagnosing of a fracture can be done through X-rays. However, the diagnosis of cartilage, tendon, or muscle damage is difficult to make without Arthroscopy.

Conditions Affecting Joints in which Arthroscopy Can Be Used:

Some of the most common condition where Arthroscopy can be used are:

Inflammation: Inflammation of the lining of the joint cavity, also known as Synovitis, can affect all joints including shoulder, wrist, elbow, and ankle joint.

Injuries: Injuries beset joints that include all joints. However, there are some typical injuries that beset specific joints. Some of the common injuries are:

  1. Shoulder joints usually suffer from rotator cuff tendon tear, dislocations, and impingement syndrome.

  2. The most common injuries in knee joints are a meniscal tear, anterior cruciate ligament tear, and chondromalacia

  3. For wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common form of injury usually formed by repeated abuse of the carpal tunnel.

Arthroscopy makes it easy to diagnose and treat each of these injuries.

Problems Treated by Arthroscopy:

Apart from injuries, other problems that can be treated by Arthroscopy are associated with arthritis. In fact, there are several injuries and problems where a combination of standard and arthroscopic surgeries is needed. These include:

  1. Rotator cuff surgery for a shoulder injury.

  2. Repair of torn cartilage in the shoulder or knee.

  3. Reconstruction of anterior cruciate ligament of the knee.

  4. Releasing the carpal tunnel of the wrist.

  5. Repairing torn ligaments.

Although Arthroscopy enables the surgeon to view the cavities of all types of joints, it is primarily used to view and fix six joints that include shoulders, knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, and hip. With new and innovative technologies, more and more complex and smaller joints are being treated with Arthroscopy.

Take Away:

Arthroscopy is very useful in many injuries and joint related problems. However, it is always advisable to consult a doctor before going for this type of surgery as every patient and condition is different from the other.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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