Arthroscopy (ahr-THROS-kuh-pee) is a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems. A surgeon inserts a narrow tube attached to a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision — about the size of a buttonhole. The view inside your joint is transmitted to a high-definition video monitor.
Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision. Surgeons can even repair some types of joint damage during arthroscopy, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted through additional small incisions.
Conditions treated with arthroscopy include:
- Loose bone fragments
- Damaged or torn cartilage
- Inflamed joint linings
- Torn ligaments
- Scarring within joints
Why it’s done
Doctors use arthroscopy to help diagnose and treat a variety of joint conditions, most commonly those affecting the:
After the procedure
Arthroscopic surgery usually doesn’t take long. For example, arthroscopy of the knee takes about an hour. After that, you’ll be taken to a separate room to recover for a few hours before going home.
Your aftercare may include:
- Medications. Your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve pain and inflammation.
- R.I.C.E. At home, may find it helpful to rest, ice, compress and elevate the joint for several days to reduce swelling and pain.
- Protection. You might need to use temporary splints — slings or crutches for comfort and protection.
- Exercises. Your doctor might prescribe physical therapy and rehabilitation to help strengthen your muscles and improve the function of your joint.