Arthroscopy – Keyhole Surgery of the Joints


An arthroscope is an endoscope for the joints – (’Artho’ means joint and ‘scope’ means the instrument to visualize it). In other words Arthroscopic Surgery is keyhole surgery of the joints. Any joint in the body can be visualized with the arthroscope and the problems can be treated.

Inside the knee
The knee joint is formed by the articulation of the thigh bone (femur), the leg bone (tibia) and the knee cap. The meeting surfaces of the bones are covered with a special smooth tissue, known as cartilege. These two bones are held together by two ribbon like structures inside the joint which cross each other. They are called cruciate ligaments. Then there are two washers in between these two bones which act as shock absorbers.

Do you have these problems?
All these structures can be visualized with an arthroscope. Most of the times after an injury when there is no fracture, injury to these structures are neglected. Usually injuries to these structures give rise to pain, instability, knee giving way, locking, audible clicks and swelling in the knee joint. If unattended these will lead to arthritis of the joint at a later date.

All these injuries can be easily diagnosed by doing arthroscopy.

The Keyhole Solution
Usually these injuries are treated by opening the joints which result in post-operative pain, prolonged recovery and risk of infection. But, now-a-days all these problems are treated with keyhole surgery. The cruciate ligaments can be reconstructed  through arthroscopy. The torn washers can be sutured. When there is a tear in the cartilege, the cartilege can be transferred from one part of the knee joint to the affected part arthroscopically. It is also helpful in removing loose foreign bodies from the knee joint.

Treating Recurrent Dislocation

In case of the shoulder joint, the head of the arm bone and the cup of the shoulder blade are held together by a cover of soft tissue (capsule). When the shoulder joint dislocates, the ball not only comes out of the cup but also peels the soft tissue envelop from the face of the cup. This results in a redundant pouch in front of the cup to which the ball dislocates often (recurrent dislocation). In olden days the shoulder joint had to be entirely opened to repair this. This results in pain, prolonged recovery and in some cases, stiffness of the shoulder joint. But now-a-days with two (or) three keyholes, it can be done using arthroscopes where patients can get a full range of movements in 4-6 weeks. Similarly torn muscles around the shoulder joint (rotator cuff) can be reattached arthroscopically.

Advantage Arthroscopy
Arthroscopic surgeries are far superior to conventional surgeries in many ways. The damage to your tissues is less. So, post operative pain will be negligible. The recovery will be quicker. Most of the procedures are done as day care surgeries where you need not stay overnight in the hospital. This reduces the cost of the surgery. Last but not the least it leaves you with a very small scar.