Description of Procedure
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which the surgeon inserts a small camera (arthroscope) into the joint being assessed. The arthroscope transmits the image for the surgeon to view on a television monitor. A sterile solution is injected to fill the joint and clear away cloudy fluid; the surgeon is then able to repair or remove damaged tissue by inserting other surgical instruments to smooth the joint structure for improved function with decreased irritation/pain. Arthroscopic surgery is often used to decrease symptoms of arthritis and assist with the surgical repair of ligaments and tendons.
Surgery and Preparation
Prior to surgery, you will have a surgical consult to discuss your past medical history, current medications, and for pre-operative lab tests to determine if the procedure is safe at that time. If surgery is appropriate, you should arrive to the clinic 1-2 hours before your scheduled surgery to fill out any additional paperwork so your surgery can begin on-time. Just before surgery, you will receive anesthesia to numb the area and/or put you to sleep. The surgery could last between 30 minutes to over an hour depending on the procedure being performed. Most arthroscopic surgeries are performed in the outpatient setting, so you should get to go home 1-2 hours after surgery for the anesthesia to wear off. You should arrange for transportation home, because driving restrictions apply after the surgery due to the anesthesia and/or joint movement precautions.
Recovery and Physical Therapy
After surgery, swelling and inflammation around the joint is very common; your surgeon will likely prescribe pain medication. Ice is recommended for 20 minute increments throughout the day to decrease swelling and pain. Physical therapy is also prescribed to help you safely progress joint movement and strength while following surgical precautions such as weight-bearing and range-of-motion restrictions. The physical therapist will perform an evaluation to determine your current limitations, goals, and surgical precautions. Your therapist will then develop a personalized treatment plan based on the evaluation to help you achieve your optimum level of function and return you to sport/work.