Arthroscopy at Aria: A Key Tool for Joint Repairs

Arthroscopy has expanded dramatically in orthopedics, including over the last decade.  All three campuses at Aria Health have invested significantly in the most up-to-date technology to facilitate surgeons in treating disorders of the joints using this form of minimally invasive surgery, which takes advantage of digital imaging and fine, percutaneous tools.

Arthroscopic surgery allows the orthopedist to both evaluate and treat disorders of the joints. The surgeon makes two or three small incisions (called portals and about the size of buttonhole) and inserts the pencil-thin arthroscopic instruments.  One of the instruments inserted through these small puncture holes is an endoscope that provides video images of the joint site on a screen in the operating room.  The scope contains a small lens and a fiber-optic system that transmits light.  The instrument allows the surgeon to illuminate, see, and magnify views of the structures inside the joint.  

Using the externally controlled surgical tools, the specialist can remove debris, cut or reattach tissue, or otherwise repair abnormalities. The most common arthroscopies performed at Aria Health are of the knee, shoulder, and wrist.  Other joints arthroscoped by specialty surgeons, include the ankle, hip, and elbow.

The surgeon can confirm the diagnosis and treat the condition in the same procedure.

Arthroscopy has become a mainstay for both diagnosis and treatment of joint conditions and injuries.  Based on findings from examination and studies such as x-rays or MR imaging, the team can then confirm a problem and treat it in the same arthroscopic procedure.  

Dependable evaluation & faster, easier surgery
Often an injury requiring arthroscopy is clearly defined in symptoms and by radiologic imaging.  But for patients who have nonspecific pain, swelling, and other symptoms from a joint – and when other testing and imaging is inconclusive – the arthroscopist can see first-hand the status of the joint without the need for open exploratory surgery. 

Patients appreciate a number of advantages from arthroscopic surgery compared to conventional surgery:

•    Their time in the operating room and amount of anesthesia needed is less.
•    They can almost always undergo their procedure as an outpatient, returning home several hours after surgery.
•    Their postoperative recovery and return to activity is faster.
•    And, the cost of the surgery is less.

Sometimes the return of function is remarkably quick, compared to the recuperative and healing time required with traditional, open surgery.  Plus, the procedure leaves less scarring.

Shoulder Arthroscopy
Shoulder pain is very common in an older, active population. Pain that lingers despite treatment may signify a tear in the rotator cuff.  Tradiitonal methods  used to treat rotator cuff tears involved large, painful incisions with prolonged periods of recovery.  These methods, however, have become replaced by newer techniques and equipment including Arthroscopic surgery.  Surgeons who have been trained and are experience in these techniques offer many advantages to patients with disorders of the shoulder.

The use of the arthroscope allows a surgeon to repair many rotator cuff problems through small, puncture like incisions.  Modern equipment, techniques, and rehabilitation decrease the pain involved with surgery, and often allow a more rapid start to rehabilitation and return to activity.  Cuff tears, instability, arthritic conditions, and many sports related shoulder injuries can be treated in this fashion.

At Aria, arthroscopic shoulder and rotator cuff surgery is accompanied by state of the art anesthesia techniques that make recovery easier and allow complex surgery to be done on an outpatient basis.