Ask Dr. Anderson: How Does Arthroscopy Benefit Foot Surgery?

Dr. Anderson defines arthroscopy and explains how arthroscopy procedures improve treatment of foot and ankle surgeries.


No one wants to deal with foot pain. It’s hard enough when pain disrupts your daily activities; understanding medical terms—like arthroscopy—and evaluating treatment options can be downright intimidating. “It’s really important to me to help my patients understand their choices,” says foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Michael Anderson. “Arthroscopic procedures offer significant benefits to my patients, and I’m here to help them understand what arthroscopy is and how it has improved treatment of foot and ankle issues.

Arthroscopy defined

The word “arthroscopy” comes from two Greek words: “arthro,” which means “joint”, and “skopein,” which means “to look.” The term describes a medical advance that harnesses technology and advanced imaging to make it possible for a surgeon to literally look within a joint to evaluate a problem or perform a surgical procedure.

Arthroscopy is used to diagnose and treat foot and ankle patients

“The technology that gave rise to arthroscopy doesn’t simply enable us to look into a joint,” Dr. Anderson points out. “Because arthroscopic cameras and equipment are so tiny, we can diagnose and treat problems while minimizing disruption to the joint and surrounding tissues. Arthroscopy procedures don’t require large incisions to open up a joint. Instead, the surgical procedure is guided by a tiny fiber-optic camera inserted into the joint. The camera magnifies and illuminates the structures inside the joint with light transmitted through fiber optics. The camera in the arthroscope displays the image of the joint on a television screen. I can examine the cartilage, ligaments, and bone structures to evaluate the injury.

“This enables us to perform examinations or entire surgeries through tiny buttonhole-sized incisions,” Dr. Anderson continues. “The ability to be minimally invasive in our approach is especially helpful when operating on the small joints in the foot and ankle.”

When first introduced, arthroscopy was used as a diagnostic tool for planning standard open surgery. However, as more sophisticated instrumentation and surgical techniques developed, arthroscopy is used to treat as well as diagnose foot and ankle conditions.

Advantages of arthroscopy

Arthroscopic technology is widely used in a variety of orthopedic subspecialties. Dr. Anderson explains some of the benefits this technology offers to foot and ankle patients.

  • Arthroscopy improves accuracy of diagnosis. “Diagnosing joint injuries always begins with a thorough medical history, physical examination, and imaging,” explains Dr. Anderson. “We’ve historically relied on X-ray studies, but an arthroscope can provide a more accurate diagnosis. I often use arthroscopy as an augment to other procedures. I will scope a joint when there is instability and I’m repairing ligaments. I also use arthroscopy in some fractures to better evaluate the joint, and can do ankle fusions with the arthroscope to minimize injury to the soft tissues. We also use arthroscopy to treat cartilage lesions of the talus bone.”
  • Arthroscopic surgeries offer faster and easier patient recovery. Recovery time varies from patient to patient, depending on the complexity of the problem. Overall, however, arthroscopic treatment is much easier on patients than open surgery. Most arthroscopic surgery is outpatient. Patients can go home several hours after their surgery. The small incisions heal within several days, and pain in the joint is minimal. Most patients resume daily activities within a few days and recover joint function in several weeks.
  • Lower surgical infection risks. Infection risks are always lower in the outpatient facility than they are in a hospital setting. Because arthroscopic surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, there’s less chance of infection. The fact that the joint is not opened further protects it.

Summit Orthopedics offers personalized foot and ankle expertise

Our fellowship-trained foot and ankle physicians understand that your mobility depends on the health of your feet and ankles. If you have suffered an injury or are experiencing symptoms that make walking painful, our team of foot and ankle specialists can help with conservative treatment, seasoned surgical teams, and expert rehabilitation support. Summit Orthopedics specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely get you back on your feet and on your way.

Start your journey to optimal foot health. Find your foot and ankle expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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  • Michael Anderson MD

    Michael Anderson, D.O.

    “Foot and ankle problems affect people from all walks of life. Whether your goal is to get back to competitive sports, live a more active life, resume work or enjoy time with family and friends, I’m here to help.”

    More about this expert

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