Arthroscopy involves introducing a small rigid tube, an arthroscope, into a joint. The arthroscope is connected to a camera and allows the surgeon to investigate a joint and visualise its inside on a monitor. The investigation is used for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and requires anaesthesia.
Arthroscopy - the process
It therefore allows the inside of a joint to be visualised, samples to be taken, or some surgical procedures to be performed in the joint. It is used to investigate and identify different forms of damage to joints: to the cartilage, synovium, ligaments, menisci or tendons etc. The joints which are most often investigated by arthroscopy are the knee, shoulder, hip and elbow. As an example, a knee arthroscopy can allow the surgeon to remove the fragments of damaged cartilage which impede the mobility of a joint.
The investigation process
Arthroscopy is a surgical technique. It is therefore performed in the operating theatre. It is performed under , loco-regional or general anaesthesia. A pre-operative visit with an anaesthetist is therefore essential. Arthroscopy requires one or two small incisions. The first incision allows the arthroscope to be introduced and the second allow instruments required for the operation to be introduced.
Possible risks of arthroscopy
According to a survey conducted in 33 centres in Europe, the Americas, and Australia involving 15,682 arthroscopies, the complication rate was less than 1%. Different types of complications were found: infections (of the wound or joint), blood effusions in the joint (haemarthroses), deep vein thromboses, neurological damage and superficial thrombophlebitis.
- Société française d'arthroscopie (French Arthroscopy Society)
- International Health Authority, websites accessed on 24 January 2011
Identifying joint damage. © Sebastian Kaulitzki, Fotolia