During an arthroscopy (or scoping), your surgeon will look at your joints and make repairs if necessary. Orthopedic surgeons use arthroscopy to address problems with the knees, shoulders, or hips. During the surgery, your doctor will use tiny instruments to make small incisions and a tiny, fiber-optic camera to examine your joints.
Doctors recommend scoping for a variety of reasons, including:
- injury of a joint during a sports activity
- joint pain that is unresponsive to rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication
- torn ligaments or cartilage
- cysts in or near a joint
- joint examination
To scope your joint, your doctor will make two or more small incisions and insert a flexible wand containing the camera to identify the issue with your joint. The camera will project images on a monitor for your surgeon to look at.
If scoping reveals an issue that can be fixed right away, such as torn cartilage that needs to be removed from your knee, your doctor will insert small instruments through the other incision to perform these repairs.
You will most likely receive general anesthesia before the procedure, so you will be unconscious during scoping. Alternatively, your anesthesiologist may recommend local anesthesia (numbing medication injected near the joint) or spinal anesthesia (to numb a large area of your body).
As arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, most people go back home on the same day.