How It Is Done continued...
If general or regional anesthesia is used, an anesthesia specialist will administer the medicine. A general anesthetic will make you unconscious during the procedure. Your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, and respirations will be monitored during the procedure. If a local anesthetic is used, it will be injected into the skin and joint space. If a local or regional anesthetic is used, your limb will be numb and you will be relaxed and drowsy but will remain conscious.
You usually lie on your back. Depending on which joint is being looked at, an inflatable band (tourniquet) may be used to temporarily restrict blood flow to your joint so your doctor can see all the structures in your joint. Your joint is scrubbed with an antiseptic solution and draped with sterile towels. Before the tourniquet is inflated, the joint will be elevated and may be wrapped with an elastic bandage to reduce blood flow to the joint.
A small incision about 0.25 in. (0.6 cm) will be made near your joint. Before inserting the arthroscope, an irrigation solution (usually saline) will be used to flush the joint space to provide a better view of the entire joint. A steady low flow of solution is usually used during the procedure to clear out any debris or blood in the joint so your doctor can evaluate your joint.
Once the arthroscope is inserted, your doctor will be able to see inside the joint by viewing a video monitor attached to the arthroscope. Your doctor or the surgical assistants may bend, extend, and reposition the joint to see it from different angles. Videotapes or photographs of the joint may also be taken.
If additional surgery is required to repair your joint problem, more small incisions will be made and other thin instruments will be inserted into your joint. When the arthroscope and any other instruments are taken out, any blood and debris will be flushed with saline and drained. To reduce inflammation or pain, local anesthetics or corticosteroids may be injected into your joint.