Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to diagnose and sometimes treat joint injuries and disease through small incisions in the skin. It is often performed to confirm a diagnosis made after a physical examination and other imaging tests such as MRI, CT or X-rays.
During an arthroscopic procedure, a thin fiberoptic light, magnifying lens and tiny television camera are inserted into the problem area, allowing the doctor to examine the joint in great detail.
For some patients it is then possible to treat the problem using this approach or with a combination of arthroscopic and "open" surgery. Sports injuries are often repairable with arthroscopy. Tendon tears in the knee are frequently repaired in this way. Other potentially treatable injuries include torn cartilage or ligaments, inflamed joint lining, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tears, and loose bone or cartilage.
Because it is minimally invasive, arthroscopy offers many benefits to the patient over traditional surgery:
- No cutting of muscles or tendons
- Less bleeding during surgery
- Less scarring
- Smaller incisions
- Faster recovery and return to regular activities
- Faster and more comfortable rehabilitation
Arthroscopy is not appropriate for every patient. Your doctor will discuss the options that are best for you.