At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 162
ARTHROSCOPY IS A KEYHOLE PROCEDURE THAT'S MOST
COMMONLY USED TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT PROBLEMS
IN THE KNEE, ANKLE, ELBOW, SHOULDER AND WRIST JOINTS
ave you been referred for
investigation or oﬀered
surgery for a joint problem?
If so, you may have been
told about a special kind
of minimally invasive
surgery called arthroscopy.
But what is it exactly, and what's involved?
An arthroscope is a small metal tube, like a
thin telescope, and about the length and width
of a drinking straw. Inside, a bundle of ﬁbre
optics act as both a light source and a camera.
Images are sent from the arthroscope to a video
screen or an eyepiece, so the surgeon is able to
see the inside of the joint.
An arthroscopy can be used to help diagnose
a number of complaints, including unexplained
joint pain, stiﬀness or swelling, joints giving way at
certain times, or joints 'popping' out of position.
During investigation or surgery, the
instrument is passed through a small incision
(keyhole) in the skin and into the joint. It's used
to light up and magnify the structures inside.
Tiny surgical instruments can be passed
through the arthroscope, which allows the
surgeon to repair damaged cartilage, tendons
or ligaments. He or she can also remove
fragments of loose bone or cartilage, and
even treat a frozen shoulder.
One or more additional incisions may be
made so that other instruments can be inserted.
WHEN IS IT USED?
For joint problems, a patient will initially
have imaging tests, which could be an X-ray,
computerised tomography (CT) scans or
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). But if these
tests don't ﬁnd the cause of the problem, it may
162 | FEBRUARY 2018
be necessary to take a direct look at the inside of
the joint - and that's where arthroscopy comes in.
Arthroscopy may also be employed following
injury to assess the level of joint damage - whether
that's a sports injury or damage caused by an
underlying condition such as osteoarthritis.
Arthroscopy is usually performed as a day-case
procedure, so patients are generally able to go
home on the same day as the surgery, after a
suitable period of recovery time.
It is most often carried out under a general
anaesthetic, but in some cases a spinal or local
ALSO BE EMPLOYED
FOLLOWING INJURY TO
ASSESS THE LEVEL OF
anaesthetic is used. The procedure lasts between
15 and 45 minutes, but more extensive surgery
can sometimes take two or three hours.
Most adults return to work within three to six
weeks, while most children are able to return to
school within a week of having surgery,
Patients can start driving again once they
are able to do an emergency stop without it
hurting the aﬀected joint - this could be after
a few weeks or several months, depending on
the nature of the procedure.
Patients are booked in for a follow-up
appointment to check their progress about
four to six weeks after the initial surgery.
life. So you'll
soon be up
with little or