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Arthroscopy: What is it?

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which a small fiberoptic telescope (arthroscope) is inserted into a joint. Fluid is then inserted into the joint to distend the joint and to allow for the visualization of the structures within that joint. The inside joint picture is transmitted via a camera to a screen/monitor. the surgery is viewed on a moniter so that the whole operating team and the patient is aware of the type of surgical procedure that is being performed.

Arthroscopes are approximately1.9 mm to 4 mm in diameter smaller ones for smaller joints (wrist, elbow, finger and toe joints) and larger ones for larger joints ( hip, knee, ankle, shoulder). Because the incisions are very small, it is often called KEY HOLE SURGERY. During the procedure, the inside of the joint is examined for damaged tissue and all diagnosed problems can be tackled.

It would however be wrong to assume that that arthroscopic surgery is easy. It probably is one of the most difficult skills to pick up and most well known arthroscopic surgeons including this surgeon have spent years of training and practice picking up the skills. That is one reason why we still have a shortage of arthroscopic surgeons in the fraternity of orthopedic surgeons.

Arthroscopy is much less traumatic to the muscles, ligaments, and tissues than the traditional method of surgically opening the knee with long incisions (arthrotomy). It also allows a much better visualization of the joint and all the structures inside. The benefits of arthroscopy involve smaller incisions, faster healing, a more rapid recovery, and less scarring. Arthroscopic surgical procedures are often performed on an outpatient basis and the patient is able to return home on the same day.



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