The word arthroscopy is derived from 2 Greek words, ‘Arthros’ meaning ‘Joint’ and ‘Scope’ in meaning ‘to see’. Therefore simply put arthroscopy means visualising the interior of human joints through a camera. All human joints are created in a way that allow the safe insertion of 4 mm camera and instruments at strategic spots to allow us surgeons to see and repair damaged tissue.
The main difference between arthroscopy and open joint surgery is that one cuts a much lesser amount of tissue to reach the joint in the former surgery as compared to the latter. That translates into less pain and speedier recovery to you as the patient. An added advantage is that the arthroscope (our camera) magnifies the field of view and allows us to operate delicately with millimetre precision. Areas of the joint previously inaccessible through open surgery have now become accessible through arthroscopy. Let us explore the realms of this fascinating minimally invasive surgery through a series of FAQ's.
- Which joints of the human body can be treated by 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.
- Is arthroscopy only for sportspersons?
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 injury in a domestic or roadside accident.
- What are the common knee diseases that require arthroscopy?
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.
- What are the common shoulder diseases that require 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 tear of shoulder tendons (rotator cuff tear) that prevents them from lifting their arms. This is also treated adequately by arthroscopy. Frozen shoulder is 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.
- What are the common elbow, wrist & ankle diseases that require arthroscopy?
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.
- What are the common hip diseases that require arthroscopy?
Hip joint is one of the deepest joints of the human body. Hip pain especially in the 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.
- What is the usual procedure for getting an arthroscopy?
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 day care or short stay surgery, wherein you get discharged from the hospital within 24-48 hours. Regional anaesthesia (spinal & epidural) is given for the lower limb procedures & general anaesthesia is preferred for the upper limb procedures. The recovery period is different for each surgery & is best discussed face to face with the surgeon.
- Are there any risks that I should be aware of?
Arthroscopy is a safe & well established procedure. Temporary soreness of the joint, swelling & stiffness are expected & will resolve with physiotherapy. Anaesthesia related issues are best discussed with our anaesthetist after admission. Modern anaesthesia makes it very safe for anyone to undergo this procedure & with a multi-speciality panel of experts like cardiologists, physiotherapists etc, you are covered for all possible eventualities that may happen during the hospital stay.
- How painful is arthroscopy?
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’.