What is an arthroscopy?
An arthroscopy is the medical term for keyhole surgery. The surgeon is able to examine your shoulder using a camera inserted into small incisions to the shoulder area. By using surgical instruments some problems can also be treated.
What are the benefits?
Surgery is able to accurately identify the problem and following diagnosis the problem can be treated at the same time – reducing the need for further surgery.
Are there any alternatives?
Using an MRI or CT scan is another way to potentially diagnose problems within the shoulder. However, an arthroscopy may still be needed to treat the problem.
What does the procedure involve?
The operation is usually carried out under a general anaesthetic and is often completed within 45 minutes. Between two and four small incisions will be made by the surgeon around the shoulder area. A small camera is then inserted through one of the incisions allowing the surgeon to see inside the joint. Surgical instruments are then inserted into the other cuts enabling the surgeon to repair any problems.
What are the complications?
- Infection of the wound
- Pain and stiffness plus loss of use of the arm and hand (complex regional pain syndrome)
- Damage to the nerves
- Blood clot in the axillary vein, located near your armpit
How long is recovery?
It is very likely that you will be sent home the same day. To aid recovery your physiotherapist may give you exercises and advice. Allow three months to get back to normal activities, however regular gentle exercise may enable you to get back to normal activities sooner. Before you start any form of exercise seek advice from the relevant healthcare professional or your doctor. Be patient – it will take time for the pain to lessen and for movement to increase. It is very likely that you will experience a noticeable improvement; however symptoms can come back in time.
This technique allows the surgeon to diagnose and treat some of the more common shoulder complaints. Due to this less invasive form of surgery, any pain you may experience is reduced and the recovery time is much quicker.
Acknowledgements: EIDO Healthcare Limited