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What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Having had an X-ray of the joint that used contrast material (arthrogram) within the previous 10 days. The contrast material may cause inflammation within the joint that can prevent a clear picture of the joint during arthroscopy.
  • Having arthritis. Joint damage caused by arthritis may make it difficult or impossible to do this procedure.
  • Having some other medical conditions, such as a thickening of tissue (fibrosis) in the joint area or widespread infection (sepsis).

What To Think About

  • Surgical procedures done by arthroscopy usually result in shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times than open joint surgery.
  • Arthroscopy usually is not done if:
    • A skin or wound infection is present near the joint to be examined. But arthroscopy may be done to clean out an infected joint.
    • Ankylosis is present. Ankylosis is a condition that causes stiffness and poor flexibility of a joint and may be caused by a disease (such as ankylosing spondylitis), a joint injury, or surgery.
    • Joint destruction is severe (for example, with severe arthritis).
    • A severe bleeding disorder is present. But arthroscopy may be done if clotting factor medicines are used.
  • It may take several weeks for your joint to recover. If extensive surgery is done during your arthroscopy, it may take longer than a few weeks to recover. Your doctor will give you pain medicine and recommend rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy for you to do during your recovery period. Depending on which joint was examined, you may need to use splints, slings, or crutches to support movement of your joint during recovery.
  • Many doctors use ultrasound, computed tomography (CT scan), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before doing an arthroscopy to make sure that any problems that need surgery can be done at the same time as the arthroscopy.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKenneth J. Koval, MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
Last RevisedJanuary 14, 2013

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.

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