What Is Arthroscopy?

We explain how this minimally invasive procedure is performed, and the diagnostic and surgical advantages it offers.

The word “arthroscopy” comes from two Greek words: “arthro,” which means “joint”, and “skopein,” which means “to look.” The term encompasses the power of this surgical procedure to look within a joint.

The diagnosis of a joint injury or joint disease begins with a thorough medical history, and physical examination. Additional imaging tests may be necessary, including X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT).

Injuries and disease can damage bones, cartilage, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Arthroscopy can be used to examine a joint, and to guide a surgical procedure to repair the damage found.

Arthroscopic examination

To perform an arthroscopic examination, an orthopedic surgeon makes a small incision in the patient’s skin, and inserts pencil-sized instruments containing a small lens and a fiber optics lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures within the joint. The instrument containing the fiber optics is called an arthroscope.

The arthroscope is attached to a miniature television camera. This camera enables the surgeon to see the interior of the joint, displayed on a television screen. By viewing the image on the screen, the surgeon can evaluate the cartilage and ligaments of the joint, determine the extent of the injury, and make a surgical recommendation as necessary.

Arthroscopic procedures are a valuable tool for all orthopedic patients. Because these are minimally invasive procedures, they are generally easier on the patient. Arthroscopic evaluations and surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures, and patients return home within hours of an arthroscopic examination or surgery. The small incisions heal within a matter of days, and dressings can usually be removed the day after the procedure. However, it is important to remember that each patient’s arthroscopic procedure is unique to that person, and recover time will vary accordingly.

At Summit Orthopedics, expertise with arthroscopic procedures is part of our ongoing commitment to serve our patients with the most advanced technology and treatments available.

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  • Scott Pepin, M.D.

    “Having my own personal experiences in sustaining injuries and the subsequent recovery process helps provide me insight into my own patients’ conditions and what they are going through. I also understand the importance of and strive to help return my patients back to the activities they want to do, whether that be to walk around the block or return to high-level sports performance.”

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