The joints in the body experience tremendous stress during a person’s lifetime. Sometimes, a variety of factors, such as lifestyle, genetics, etc., combine to weaken or even damage the joints. Arthroscopy is a procedure used to diagnose joint conditions and provide joint-related treatments.
In this article, we will explore arthroscopy in detail.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure done when patients experience joint-related problems. A device called an arthroscope is inserted into the body to help doctors visualise the treatment site.
The arthroscope is a small, thin tube to which a tiny light and a small video camera are attached. The arthroscope’s camera is connected to an external monitoring device.
As the tube is gently eased through the patient’s body, doctors are able to get a high-definition picture of the inside of the patient’s body. This visualisation allows doctors to determine what is wrong and how best to treat this condition.
The process of using arthroscopy to diagnose joint damage or disease is called diagnostic arthroscopy. In some cases, diagnostic arthroscopy is used as a standalone procedure; in other cases, surgeons may perform other surgeries to address joint problems during the arthroscopy.
Which joints are treated during an arthroscopy procedure?
Any joint in the human body that is damaged or diseased can benefit from an arthroscopy procedure. Typically, arthroscopy is done when there is damage to the following parts of the body:
Types of joint problems that arthroscopy can diagnose and help treat
Typically, an arthroscopy specialist will be able to diagnose the following medical conditions:
- Tissue inflammation in the joints
- Tear in the anterior and/or posterior cruciate ligaments
- Damage to the meniscus
- Patella dislocation
- Knee fractures
- Arthritic cysts
- Impingement or tears in the rotator cuffs
- Coracoacromial ligament damage
- Bankart lesion
- Superior labrum anterior and posterior lesion
- Labrum tears
- Tears in the biceps
- Clavicle arthritis
- Ankle instability, impingement or infection
- Ankle arthritic damage
- Ankle fractures
- Bone spurs
- Hip impingement
- Labral tear
- Diseased hip lining
- Fragmented cartilage (occurs due to an injury)
- Bone spurs
- Wrist fractures
- Ligament tears
- Ganglion cysts
- Damage to the triangular fibrocartilage complex (leads to chronic wrist pain)
Arthroscopy allows surgeons to not only determine the progression of these conditions but also aids them in performing minimally-invasive surgeries to repair joint damage.
Signs that a person may need to come in for an arthroscopy
A diagnostic arthroscopy can benefit a person greatly if they experience the following conditions.
- Intermittent joint pain
- Chronic joint pain
- Joint sprains
- Inflammation in the tissues of the joints.
- Instability & weakness in the joints.
- Reduced movement or difficulty moving the joints.
People may also be asked to come in for arthroscopy in the following cases.
- Medications and/or steroids don’t relieve existing joint injuries or ailments.
- Splints and braces don’t have the intended effect.
- Physical therapy and rest are not helpful.
In these cases, approaching an arthroscopy specialist for a consult can be the best decision.
The complete arthroscopy procedure
During the consult, it’s important for patients to let the doctor know about any medications or steroids they are on. The doctor will recommend whether patients can continue taking these medicines a day or two before the procedure.
Patients may be anesthetised during the procedure and may need to fast the night before arthroscopy.
Since the procedure is for the joints, the patient’s movement may be compromised post-procedure. So, dressing in loose, easy-to-wear clothing and having someone to chauffer is important.
During the procedure
The medical team will ask the patient to change into surgical clothes, and they will be positioned in a way that allows doctors to access the treatment site with ease. The medical staff will then wash and clean the procedure site with care.
The patient will be given a numbing agent or anaesthesia, based on their unique medical needs, to make the procedure more comfortable. A tourniquet may be placed on the procedure site to temporarily limit blood flow and improve visualisation.
In some instances, a sterile fluid is injected into the procedure site to expand the space within the joint for easy diagnostic/surgical mobility during treatment.
A tiny incision is made on the procedure site, and the arthroscope is gently inserted. The arthroscope is slowly guided to the exact place doctors are diagnosing and/or treating.
During the arthroscopy, the doctor may also continue with a related surgery that was pre-planned. If this were a purely diagnostic arthroscopy, the arthroscope would be carefully eased out of the body and the incision site closed with skin-friendly sutures. The tourniquet will be removed.
The entire arthroscopy procedure should take an hour to a few hours, depending on any other treatments that are also performed.
The numbing agent/anaesthesia typically wears off in a few hours. Patients can return home the same day, within an hour after the procedure. But it is advisable to limit physical movement for a few days before resuming the regular schedule.
Patients may be given medicines, and typically, the Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE) recovery method is recommended. Suture care instructions will also be provided if patients have had surgery alongside arthroscopy.
Patients will also be guided to get physiotherapy to regain joint strength and mobility.
Get world-class arthroscopy treatments by experts at the CK Birla Hospital
Arthroscopy is a beneficial modality for any patient experiencing joint pain. Schedule an arthroscopy today and have a pain-free future.
The CK Birla Hospital is one of India’s most reputed centres for arthroscopy and joint treatments. Our award winning surgical team has arthroscopy specialists who have years of experience in helping thousands of patients regain their mobility and quality of life through timely arthroscopy procedures. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can find out more about in on our website or by consulting Dr Anand Singh Book an appointment here.