ArthroscopyArthroscopy is a procedure in which a caregiver uses an arthroscope. An arthroscope is an instrument that allows your caregiver to look directly into a joint. It is like a small telescope attached to a video camera, and is similar in size to a pencil. Arthroscopes let your caregiver see inside your joint on an attached television monitor. Most joints in the human body can be examined and surgery can be performed through the arthroscope using small incisions. Prior to the use of arthroscopes, surgeries were done with larger open incisions, which requires longer recovery times. On occasion, arthroscopic procedures result in complications such as bleeding, swelling and pain. If a complication results, a longer recovery and rehabilitation may be required.


Arthroscopic procedures were developed to remove, repair, or replace (reconstruct) damaged tissue. Arthroscopy can be preformed if the procedure involves trimming tissue, removing fragments of cartilage or bone (loose bodies) within joints, suctioning debris, biopsy of tissue, smoothing rough surfaces, removing inflamed tissue, shrinking tissue, or sewing (suturing), tacking, or stapling cartilage and ligaments. What can be done is dependent on many factors. Arthroscopy allows for surgeons to perform certain surgical procedures. Also Arthroscopy is beneficial. Most of the surgeries you can go home the same day as the procedure (outpatient procedures) because the procedure does not cause as much trauma to the patient. Arthroscopy is a valuable diagnostic tool. Radiographs (such as x-ray and CT scans) have poor ability at showing soft tissue, whereas arthroscopy gives the caregiver direct visualization of soft tissue, cartilage, and bone. However, the emergence of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has lessened the need for arthroscopy has a diagnostic tool.


  • Repair and reconstruction arthroscopic techniques may require additional and/or larger incisions than diagnostic arthroscopy portals (1/4 inch incisions). The procedures are often more extensive in repair and reconstruction, than excision procedures. Therefore, patient may need to stay in the hospital overnight after arthroscopic repair or reconstruction. These procedures also disrupt more tissue, and discomfort may occur, so the temporary use of braces, casts, or crutches, as well as rehabilitation, may be needed
  • In order to undergo an arthroscopic procedure, a complete evaluation is necessary in order to provide the caregiver with as accurate of a diagnosis as possible. Sometimes it is necessary to perform diagnostic arthroscopy before another surgery can be scheduled
  • Both diagnostic and surgical arthroscopy can be performed under local anesthesia (only the joint is numbed), regional anesthesia (the operative limb is numbed), spinal or epidural anesthesia (only the lower extremities are numbed), or general anesthesia (you are completely asleep). The type of anesthetic is dependent on the patient, the surgeon, and the procedure being performed
  • If you ask prior to the operation, you may be able to obtain pictures or a video from the arthroscopic camera
  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before surgery. Food and drinks (including coffee) make general anesthesia more hazardous

Seek medical care if any of the following occur after Arthroscopy

  • You experience pain, numbness, or coldness in the extremity operated on
  • Blue, gray, or dark color appears in the fingers or toenails
  • You have increased pain, swelling, redness, drainage, or bleeding in the surgical area despite rest, ice, elevation, and pain medications
  • You have signs of infection, including a fever 101 F (38.3C) or higher

For more information about arthroscopy, call (918) 494-AOOK (2665).