Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Arthritis Health Center

Font Size

Arthroscopy

Risks

Complications are not common during arthroscopy. Sometimes there is joint stiffness or long-lasting joint pain. Bleeding within the joint can occur, particularly if surgery is done during the procedure.

There is a small chance of infection, formation of a blood clot in the affected limb, or nerve or joint damage. Also, there is a small risk of damage to the structures within the joint.

In rare cases, a serious condition called compartment syndrome can occur if pressure builds within a muscle compartment (most commonly in the front of the calf or forearm). When this occurs, immediate medical treatment is needed to release the pressure.

In very rare cases, death can occur from complications of general anesthesia.

After the test

Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • Your pain or swelling (or both) continue or get worse.
  • Your incision site bleeds excessively.
  • You experience redness, swelling, pain, or a sensation of heat in your calf or arm. These may be signs of a blood clot in a vein, a condition called thrombophlebitis. If you have these symptoms, do not massage the area.
  • You develop signs of infection. These signs may include:
    • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the affected area.
    • Red streaks extending from the affected area.
    • Drainage of pus from the area.
    • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin.
    • Fever or chills with no other known cause.

Results

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. Your doctor can determine whether your joint is normal by looking at it through the arthroscope. Usually your doctor will be able to discuss the results with you right after the test.

Arthroscopy
Normal:

In a normal, healthy joint, the ligaments look like white cables. The cartilage is smooth and white. The joint fluid is clear, and there are no loose pieces of tissue in the joint. If there is no damage or disease seen in the joint, your doctor may conclude that your joint is normal and is not the cause of your symptoms.

Abnormal:

In a damaged or diseased joint, the ligaments and cartilage are abnormal in color and shape. If there is damage or disease in the joint, your doctor may identify the condition and may even perform surgery during the arthroscopy to repair the joint problem. Examples of damage or disease in the joint include:

  • Torn, displaced, or loose fragments of soft tissues (such as ligaments or cartilage).
  • Abnormal growths, cysts, or ganglions.
  • Evidence of joint or cartilage destruction caused by injury or diseases such as arthritis.
  • Infection.

After your doctor has evaluated your joint, further treatment with medicine, physical therapy, or surgery may be recommended.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 14, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Osteoarthritis Overview Slideshow
Slideshow
Sore feet with high heel shoes
SLIDESHOW
 
Knee exercises
Slideshow
Woman in gym
Slideshow
 
xray of knees with osteoarthritis
Slideshow
close up of man wearing dress shoes
Slideshow
 
feet with gout
Quiz
close up of red shoe in shoebox
Slideshow
 
salad
Video
two male hands
ARTICLE
 
Woman massaging her neck
Quiz
5 Lupus Risk Factors
Article