Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that
allows your doctor to look at the inside of a joint in your body through a thin
viewing instrument called an arthroscope. Arthroscopy allows your doctor to
look at the joint surfaces and the surrounding soft tissues, such as tissue
that connects bone to bone (ligaments) and the tough tissue that
covers the ends of the bones at the joints (cartilage) and
provides a cushion between the bones. This procedure can be used to diagnose a
joint problem, perform surgery that repairs a joint problem, remove a loose or
foreign body, or monitor a disease or the effectiveness of a treatment.
Arthroscopy is commonly performed on the knee, shoulder, and ankle. It also can
be done on the hip, elbow, and wrist.
During arthroscopy, the
arthroscope is inserted into your joint through a small cut (incision) in the
skin. The arthroscope has a light source and a video camera attached to it.
Images from the camera can be seen on a video monitor. These magnified images
provide a clear picture of your joint. A sample of joint tissue can be
collected during arthroscopy for biopsy. If surgery is done, additional
instruments will be inserted into your joint through other small
See a picture of
arthroscopy of the knee .
surgery (which is done using a larger incision), arthroscopy allows your doctor
to see what is wrong with your joint. But compared to open surgery,
- Is usually less painful.
- Is usually less
- Usually allows for a quicker recovery time, depending on
what is done.
- Can be done on an outpatient basis without requiring
an overnight stay in a hospital. Open surgery often requires an inpatient stay
in the hospital.
Why It Is Done
Examples of when arthroscopy is used to perform
- Bone tissue can be shaved to remove calcium
deposits or bone spurs.
- Soft tissues (such as ligaments, tendons,
or cartilage) can be repaired or trimmed.
- Ligaments can be cut to help relieve tightness in a stiff joint. They can also be
repaired or reconstructed.
- A sample of
joint tissue or joint fluid (synovial fluid) may be collected for laboratory
- Scar tissue or an area of joint lining
(synovium) that is inflamed can be removed.
Some joint problems may sometimes be repaired using a
combination of arthroscopy and open surgery.
How To Prepare
Arthroscopy is often done on an
outpatient basis without requiring an overnight stay in a hospital.