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What is Arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy is keyhole surgery used to diagnose and treat problems with joints. Our specialist orthopaedic surgeons can see inside one of your joints using a camera inserted through small incisions on your skin.

One of our surgeons who perform this procedure discusses in more detail in this video: 

Arthroscopy is most commonly used on the knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hips. With the help of images taken by this camera, your surgeon can examine an injury, take biopsies and repair damaged tissue using small instruments inserted into a second incision.

The London Clinic is the centre of expertise for arthroscopy and is one of the operations most frequently performed by our surgeons.

What are the advantages of arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy offers some advantages over traditional open surgery:

  • High-definition images of your joint
  • Small surgical instruments can be accurately inserted
  • Less pain after the operation
  • Faster recovery time
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Most patients can go home the same day
  • You may be able to return to daily activity more quickly

Who would benefit from arthroscopy?

You might need an arthroscopy if you have persistent joint pain, catching, swelling or stiffness. An arthroscopy may be used to examine the degree of joint damage caused by injury, such as a sports injury or from conditions that can cause joint damage, such as osteoarthritis.

The operation can be used to treat joint problems and conditions:

  • Damaged cartilage
  • Removing fragments of loose bone or cartilage.
  • Draining away fluid
  • Treating arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome 

Treatment facts

An arthroscopy usually takes around an hour to perform depending on what needs to be done.

 You will usually have a general anaesthetic, but it is possible for an arthroscopy to be done under local anaesthetic while you’re awake. This means you’ll be able to go home straight afterwards. If you’re going under a general anaesthetic, you’ll need to stop drinking and eating at least six hours prior to the procedure.

During the operation, your orthopaedic surgeon will make small incisions around the affected joint. Sterile fluid will then be pumped into the joint so that the camera can collect a clearer picture.

Then the arthroscope will be inserted into the incisions and the injury will be examined by looking at the images that are sent to the monitor attached to the arthroscope.

If your surgeon is repairing a joint, he or she will insert small instruments through a small separate incision.

Recovery

Recovery time depends on the injured joint and the specific operation. Patients usually return to light, physical activities within a few weeks, but more strenuous activities such as lifting and sport may be delayed for several months.

Our dedicated physiotherapy team will help you get back on your feet using The London Clinic’s exclusive patient pathway, which includes controlled mobilisation on our Alter G anti-gravity treadmill and rehabilitation in our hydrotherapy pool.

Risks

An arthroscopy is widely considered to be a safe procedure, though it does carry some risks. It’s normal to experience temporary problems such as swelling, bruising, stiffness and discomfort after an arthroscopy. Your surgeon will discuss with you the possible risks. 

Please call +44 (0)20 3219 3315 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

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