Arthroscopic surgery is used to look inside joints in order to diagnose or treat problems. This type of surgery is performed on different types of joints including the shoulder, knee, hip, elbow, wrist and ankle. The main equipment used is called an arthroscope which is a tiny telescope like device with a light source.. During the surgery, the arthroscope is passed through tiny cuts in the skin. Once inside the joint, the instrument lights up and magnifies the structures making it easier for the doctor to see. Fluid is first pumped through the joint to aid in visibility, and then the doctor passes fine instruments to carry out the surgery.
Arthroscopic surgery is also known as keyhole surgery because of the size of the incision made. The surgery can be used for several purposes. First is to remove bits and pieces of bones and cartilage broken inside the joint. Additionally it is used in repairing damaged cartilage, torn ligaments, and removing inflamed synovium. In preparation for the surgery, find out your anesthesia options from your doctor, know about the procedures and follow the doctor’s dos and don’ts. During the procedure, sedatives and painkillers are applied locally or intravenously. Your vital signs, breathing, heart and blood pressure are monitored. After the surgery, the incision is dressed and you are put under observation at the recovery room. Once you are stable, you will most likely be discharged.
The surgery recovery is much faster compared to the traditional open surgery. It is less painful, has fewer risks of complications, and the hospital stay is shorter with majority of the patients going home on the day of the surgery. The patient undergoing the operation receives either local of general anesthesia. This is choices depending on the joint and other considerations.
Just like any other surgery involving use of anesthesia, the procedure has risks. Other risks, which are minimal, are risk of infection and blood clots. It’s less evasive nature makes it very successful and makes the recovery time much quicker than other procedures. Other rare surgery complications are excessive bleeding leading to swelling and accidental damage done inside or adjacent to the joint. After the operation, if you notice that you are developing a high fever or numbness in the joint operated, you should contact your surgeon for review. Pain and swelling after the surgery is also not a good sign since they may indicate bleeding inside the joint or an infection.
The surgeon, the facility, its location, and anesthesia influence the surgery cost. The average cost around the country ranges from $11,500 to $18,000. This will vary with location and the type of procedure performed. Arthroscopic surgery has revolutionized orthopedic medicine allowing doctors to perform complex procedures with minimal complications and less recovery time.