If you have a tissue or joint problem that requires surgical diagnosis and repair, you may be able to have arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopy means “to look inside the joint” in Greek. It’s the most common method of orthopedic surgery today, thanks to advances in technology during the 20th century. Arthroscopy is one of the two most significant advances in orthopedic surgery in the last century — the other being joint replacement.
Your board-certified surgeons at Coastal Empire Orthopedics perform arthroscopic surgeries every week. They’re trained in the latest advances in orthopedic surgery, providing outstanding results for their patients.
What is arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is the minimally-invasive surgical procedure that allows your Coastal Empire Orthopedics surgeon to see, diagnose, and treat your joint or soft tissue injury. Your surgeon makes a tiny cut and introduces small instruments containing a special camera and light into the area near the injury. The camera magnifies the area to be treated and projects an image of the injured site onto a large screen. If you have a knee injury, for example, your surgeon can see the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage under and around the entire kneecap, and can repair the damage in one operation.
What are the benefits of arthroscopy?
Arthroscopic surgery has several key benefits.
Less swelling and inflammation
An arthroscopic procedure makes very tiny incisions versus ‘open’ surgery, which may require large openings in the skin. Because less soft tissue is exposed to trauma, you have less swelling, less inflammation, and less pain than with open surgery.
You’ll have tiny wounds versus bigger ones. In some cases, within a day or two after surgery, you may be able to remove the bandages and cover the incisions with small sterilized strips with adhesive around them. On the other hand, open surgery is characterized by larger wounds that need more care and more trips to the doctor.
Lower risk of complications
Before arthroscopy was developed, joint surgery required prolonged joint exposure during the procedure, which increased the risk of infection. It also increased the chance of arthrofibrosis, in which scar tissue forms as a response to the trauma of the surgery. The scar tissue restricts the range of motion, causing pain whenever you move the tissue or joint.
Better return to function
Before the development of arthroscopic surgery, injuries involving joints often ended a professional athlete’s career. Now patients usually return to the field after time off.
Outpatient surgical setting
Many arthroscopic surgeries can be conducted in an outpatient setting--usually a surgical center, but sometimes within the surgeon’s offices. These options are much more cost-effective for the healthcare system and for the patient than having an operation in a hospital. Open surgery also almost always requires a hospital setting.
Anesthesia for arthroscopic procedures varies from a local anesthetic to general anesthesia. Open surgery uses general anesthesia, which some patients don’t react to very well; general anesthesia is a risk for older patients and those with other health problems.
Quicker recovery time
Arthroscopic surgery entails a quicker recovery than open surgery. Your bandages come off sooner, your incisions heal more quickly, and you can begin physical therapy sooner if it’s needed. You’ll be able to return to work and your routine much more quickly than with open surgery.
Open surgeries often took months of recovery, while the same procedure using arthroscopic surgery now takes weeks, saving time and money for hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and patients alike. That’s why arthroscopy was one of the most important innovations in orthopedic surgery in the 20th century.
Call or book an appointment online with Coastal Empire Orthopedics today for expert treatment of painful musculoskeletal conditions.