Arthroscopy is commonly used for conditions affecting shoulder, elbow and knee joints. It enables surgeons to view the internal parts of a joint directly and therefore establish a precise diagnosis in cases of cartilage damage, inflammation and damage to ligaments or menisci.
These minimally invasive procedures give us a clear view of virtually every joint area. The operations, carried out during arthroscopy, enable us to localise damage more efficiently and treat it gently using fine instruments.
Arthroscopic methods offer patients a range of advantages. Incisions are smaller than with open surgical procedures. Smaller incisions mean fewer tissue injuries and less scar formation. The patient can generally start follow-on therapy very soon after this very gentle form of surgery.
Arthroscopy is carried out either under general anaesthetics or under local anaesthetics of the arm or leg. During arthroscopy, we guide a thin probe scope via a small incision in the skin measuring 5 to 10 millimetres into the joint and then connect the probe to a video camera, which projects the images onto a screen.
To do this, we fill the joint with a fluid that is removed again at the end of the operation. Using an examining hook that is introduced via a second, equally small incision, we are able to investigate the joint structures directly. We guide the various instruments required for arthroscopic surgery through this same incision.
This allows us to remove parts of the inflamed joint mucosa in cases of inflammation, for example. In cases of cartilage or meniscal damage and in case of ligament and tendon injuries, we use this method to remove torn parts of the meniscus, suture damaged tissue, smooth out cartilage or replace torn ligaments.
This careful process means that the joint can be moved again, and in many cases also have weight borne on it, immediately after the operation. Some of these operations can be carried out as an outpatient, while for others an in-patient stay of a few days is required.