Shoulder Arthroscopy

What is arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that allows your orthopedic surgeon access to the inside of your joint through several tiny incisions. Your physician can confirm your diagnosis and repair any injured tissue by using a camera and tools inserted into the joint space. By using this less-invasive technique, patients may experience less pain and enjoy faster recovery following their procedure.

How is it performed?

Two, and sometimes more, small incisions are made through which the instruments are passed. The first instrument is a small fiber-optic camera that lets your physician visualize 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 device necessary to repair your shoulder. Sterile fluid is irrigated through the joint throughout the procedure to allow visualization.

What can I expect before surgery?

When you are ready to schedule your arthroscopy, you will need to talk with your physician’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 performed by your primary care provider is required in the 30 days before surgery. It is your responsibility to make and keep that appointment. If you do not have this done prior to surgery, your surgery will have to be canceled and rescheduled.

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. It is necessary for you to arrange for someone to drive you home, since you will be unfit to drive.
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. Patients who struggle postoperatively often are those who do not follow these guidelines. Additionally, medication will be prescribed to you for the postoperative pain. It is your responsibility to have the prescription filled. Prior to surgery, your physician will schedule a postoperative clinic visit. At this time you will discuss physical therapy and further activity guidelines.

Cold compression therapy

Your doctor may prescribe a cold compression therapy unit for you to use postoperatively (Aircast Cryo/Cuff). 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?

As with any surgery, arthroscopy has risks. These include, but are not limited to, swelling and stiffness, blood clots, bleeding, infection, and/or continuing shoulder problems. By following your physician’s instructions and remaining in good communication, these risks can be minimized.

How long is recovery?

The length of your recovery depends on the procedure performed. You can talk with your orthopedic surgeon regarding your specific situation and recovery plan.


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