What is arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that allows your shoulder specialist to visualize the inside of your joint through several tiny incisions. Your specialist can confirm your diagnosis and repair any injured tissues by using a camera and specialized arthroscopic tools inserted into the joint space.
With this less-invasive technique, patients may experience less pain and enjoy faster recovery after the procedure.
How is it shoulder arthroscopy performed?
Two or more small incisions are made, through which the surgical tools are inserted:
- The first tool is a small fiber-optic camera that lets your specialist see the injury and confirm your diagnosis.
- Other instruments are passed through the additional incisions and allow the surgeon to complete the procedure. These instruments typically consist of tissue graspers, shavers, probes, and any other devices necessary to repair your shoulder.
- Another tool brings sterile fluid to the area and inflates the joint so that it can be more easily seen.
What conditions are treated with shoulder arthroscopy?
Shoulder arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, including:
What can I expect before shoulder arthroscopy?
When you are ready to have surgery, you will need to talk with your specialist’s patient coordinator to schedule an appropriate time. He or she will provide you with the necessary paperwork, talk to you about a preoperative physical, and help you with any questions you may have.
A preoperative physical is required prior to surgery. If you do not have this done, your surgery may have to be canceled and rescheduled. Any questions about this can be directed to your specialist’s patient coordinator.
What can I expect after surgery?
Immediately after surgery, you will be placed in a recovery room and monitored by a nurse. You can expect your shoulder to be bandaged and immobilized. After you are awake and alert, a nurse will help you get ready to go home. You will need to arrange for someone to receive your after-surgery instructions and drive you home, because the sedation will make driving unsafe.
While at home, you should rest, ice, and keep the shoulder immobilized. As you start to feel better, you may be allowed to increase your activity level, but only with permission from your physician. Your specialist will discuss the specifics of your postoperative recovery with you prior to surgery. Follow the instructions. And if you have any questions or concerns, contact your specialist’s office for clarification.
Additionally, your specialist will prescribe medication for the postoperative pain. It is your responsibility to have the prescription filled. Before your surgery, your specialist’s patient coordinator will schedule a postoperative visit, where you will discuss physical therapy and further activity guidelines.
What is cold compression therapy?
Your doctor may prescribe a cold compression therapy unit for you to use after surgery. Integrated cold and compression is clinically proven to reduce postoperative swelling and pain, and help you regain range of motion. Summit Orthopedics believes that the cold compression therapy unit will provide you with the best possible outcome in the days following your surgery.
What are the risks of shoulder arthroscopy?
As with any surgery, arthroscopy has risks. These include, but are not limited to:
- Swelling and stiffness
- Blood clots
- Continuing shoulder problems
By following your physician’s instructions and remaining in good communication, you can minimize these risks.
How long does it take to recover from shoulder arthroscopy?
The length of your recovery depends on the procedure performed. You can talk with your orthopedic surgeon regarding your specific situation and recovery plan.
Learn about how Summit personalizes rotator cuff surgery to your needs and goals.
Ask the Expert: Shoulder Video Series
Arthroscopic procedures have increased surgical accuracy with less invasive techniques that also improve the patient recuperation experience. Dr. Furmanek explains how arthroscopy works.