What is an arthroscope?
The arthroscope is an instrument used to look directly into joints. This makes it useful for both diagnosis and treatment. The arthroscope contains magnifying lenses and coated glass fibers that beam an intense, cool light into the joint. A camera attached to the arthroscope allows your surgeon to see a clear image of most areas of your knee joint on a monitor. This procedure allows doctors to view the knee joint without making a large incision (cut) through the skin and other soft tissues. Arthroscopy is used to diagnose and treat a wide range of knee problems.
The Arthroscopic Procedure
Your surgeon must evaluate your knee to diagnose your problem. An evaluation may include a medical history, physical exam, and one or more diagnostic tests. To confirm the diagnosis, arthroscopy is often done. The arthroscopic procedure is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning patients don’t need to stay hospitalized overnight. At the beginning of the procedure, you will receive an anesthetic. It could be general anesthesia which will make you sleep or spinal anesthesia which will numb you from the waist down or just local anesthesia which will numb your knee.
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Sterile fluid is inserted through one portal to expand your knee joint. This makes it easier to see and work inside your joint. After inserting the arthroscope through another portal, your surgeon confirms the type and degree of knee damage. Whenever possible, your surgeon treats your knee during arthroscopy, using surgical instruments such as shavers or laser. This procedure results in less pain for patients, less joint stiffness, and often shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities.
Risks and Complications
As with similar surgeries, arthroscopy carries the risk of bleeding, infection, and stiffness, as well as recurring knee problems.