Arthroscopic Procedures: Q&A
Q: What is Arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy – otherwise known as keyhole surgery – is a treatment, which is used to look inside almost any joint and treat injuries or problems within it. Arthroscopic techniques are highly sophisticated and minimally invasive so that patients spend less time in hospital and are more likely to have a quick recovery. An arthroscope is a fibre optic tube which is inserted into the relevant joint to allow the treating doctor performing the surgery to visual the interior of that joint. I have been using this technique as a consultant since 1994.
Q: What is Arthroscopy used for?
The technique is used for the treatment of a range of intra articular problems within joints, from injuries to degenerative conditions to inflammatory conditions. The most common joints are the knee, hip, ankle and shoulder but small joints too can be accessed including the elbow and wrist.
Arthroscopy is ideal for many orthopaedic procedures in joints, such as removing torn cartilage, ligament and tendon reconstruction and smoothing out bone defects. Due to the nature of the surgery – since the joint does not have to be opened fully – there is less risk of infection, healing can be quicker, scarring is minimal and there is less trauma to the connective tissue in the joint.
Q: How quickly will I recover from arthroscopic surgery?
The overwhelming majority of arthroscopic procedures are performed as day cases. The post operative regime will depend on how complex the surgery has been but for most routine knee arthroscopies such as removal of loose bodies and trimming of torn cartilages, no splints or crutches are required. I normally advise patients to rest and ice the knee for 48 hours returning to most activities within 72 hours.
For more extensive operations such as anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions, braces and crutches may be required and longer periods off from work. For most routine shoulder arthroscopies such as Subacromial decompressions and ACJ arthroplasties, patients can mobilise their arms almost immediately and they are back at work within two or three days, but for more complex procedures such as shoulder stabilisations, cuff repairs, slings are normally required for four weeks followed by an out-patient physiotherapy programme.