The term arthroscopy is derived from two Greek words: 'Arthros,' which means 'joint,' and 'Scope,' which means 'to view.' Simply described, arthroscopy is the use of a camera to view the interior of human joints. All human joints are designed in such a manner that 4 mm cameras and devices may be safely inserted at key points to allow us, doctors, to observe and heal damaged tissue.
The fundamental difference between arthroscopy and open joint surgery is that in the former, far less tissue is sliced to access the joint than in the latter. As a result, you will have less discomfort and recover faster. The arthroscope (our camera) increases the field of view, allowing us to work carefully with millimeter accuracy. Areas of the joint that were previously unreachable by open surgery are now accessible with arthroscopy.
Nearly all joints. Knee arthroscopy forms the major chunk of our surgical volume, followed by the shoulder. One can also do this procedure for the elbow, ankle, wrist & very recently the hip joint.
No, it is merely coincidental that most injuries that require arthroscopy are the result of injuries in various types of sport. In fact, the majority of our surgical volume is directed towards the occasional athlete or the non-athlete, who sustained an injury in a domestic or roadside accident.
Ligament injuries of the knee are the most common reason to do knee arthroscopy. If you have injured your knee in an accident or in sports & feel that the knee is loose (unstable) then you may benefit from arthroscopy. Certain people experience recurrent episodes of locking of the knee that can be easily treated by arthroscopy. Dislocations of the kneecap are also treated these days through arthroscopy.
Recurrent dislocations of the shoulder is a common sporting injury that is very well treated by arthroscopy. Our senior patients, especially diabetics, can get a tear of shoulder tendons (rotator cuff tear) that prevents them from lifting their arms. This is also treated adequately by arthroscopy. Frozen shoulders are another common problem affecting diabetics. In this condition, the shoulder becomes very stiff. If it persists despite adequate medications and physiotherapy, arthroscopy is a good alternative.
Tennis elbow that hasn't responded to medications & physiotherapy can be cured by elbow arthroscopy. Similarly certain wrist fractures, inflammations are amenable to wrist arthroscopy. Chronic ankle pain resulting from sprains, inflammation, etc can be cured by ankle arthroscopy.
Hip joint is one of the deepest joints of the human body. Hip pain especially in young patients can benefit from hip arthroscopy. Early stages of hip arthritis also benefit from arthroscopic re-shaping of the hip. This is an exciting new field & as more advances are made more & more procedures around the hip are being added to the spectrum.
You will be examined by a fellowship-trained sports surgeon, who will decide if arthroscopy is appropriate for you. Most such procedures are done as a daycare or short-stay surgery, wherein you get discharged from the hospital within 24-48 hours. Regional anesthesia (spinal & epidural) is given for the lower limb procedures & general anesthesia is preferred for the upper limb procedures. The recovery period is different for each surgery & is best-discussed face to face with the surgeon.
Arthroscopy is a safe & well-established procedure. Temporary soreness of the joints, swelling & stiffness is expected & will resolve with physiotherapy. Anesthesia-related issues are best discussed with our anesthetist after admission. Modern anesthesia makes it very safe for anyone to undergo this procedure & with a multi-specialty panel of experts like cardiologists, physiotherapists, etc, you are covered for all possible eventualities that may happen during the hospital stay.
Our excellent pain service will ensure that you don't feel pain before, during or after the procedure. The mild joint soreness that accompanies arthroscopy is easily managed with simple anti-inflammatory medications.
So if you feel that your knees are giving way, or your shoulders are painful and stiff or if any other joint of your body is troubling you, come to us for an evaluation. In this day and age of joint replacement, we still believe in our core philosophy of ‘Why to replace when you can preserve’.