Arthroscopy is a method of viewing a joint, and, if needed, to perform surgery on a joint. An arthroscope consists of a tiny tube, a lens, and a light source.
This procedure is typically performed on the knee, shoulder, elbow, or wrist. The type of anesthesia depends on the particular joint and other factors. A regional anesthetic numbs the affected area, but the patient may remain awake, depending on whether other medications are used. For more extensive surgery, general anesthesia may be used. In this case the patient is asleep and pain-free.
The area is cleaned and a pressure band (tourniquet) may be applied to restrict blood flow. The health care provider then makes a surgical cut into the joint. Sterile fluid is passed through the joint space to provide a better view.
Next, a tool called an arthroscope is inserted into the area. An arthroscope consists of a tiny tube, a lens, and a light source. It allows a surgeon to look for joint damage or disease. The device also allows the surgeon to perform reconstructive procedures on the joint, if needed.
Images of the inside of the joint are displayed on a monitor.
One or two small additional surgical cuts may be needed, in order to use other instruments. These instruments can be used to remove bits of cartilage or bone, take a tissue biopsy, or perform other minor surgery. In addition, ligament reconstruction can be performed using the arthroscope in many cases.
Your doctor may order this test if you have:
Arthroscopy can also help see if a disease is getting better or worse (this is called monitoring the disease), or to determine whether a treatment is working.
You should not eat or drink anything for 12 hours before the procedure. You may be told to shave your joint area. You may be given a sedative before leaving for the hospital.
You will be asked to wear a hospital gown during the procedure so the body part for surgery is accessible.
You must sign a consent form. Make arrangements for transportation from the hospital after the procedure.