Arthroscopic Surgery FAQ
Arthroscopic surgery, also known as arthroscopy, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat a variety of joint conditions, such as meniscal or ligament tears. During arthroscopic surgery, Dr. Kruse creates two small incisions into the joint, which he uses to insert a fiber-optic camera, known as an arthroscope.
The arthroscope provides real-time video of the joint interior through a computer monitor in the operating room. By using that video, Dr. Kruse introduces pencil-sized instruments, inserted through one of the incisions, to repair or remove the damaged areas.
Arthroscopic techniques can be used in a variety of procedures, but is most often utilized to relieve symptoms of the following conditions or injuries:
- Rotator cuff tears
- Meniscal tears
- Arthritis of the hip and knee
- Ligament tears in the knee, hip, and shoulder
- Hand and wrist pain, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Overuse injuries including ligament sprains or tendon strains
Because of smaller incisions and specialized instruments, arthroscopic surgery has several advantages including: decreased scarring, less disruption of the surrounding tissue, a reduced amount of post-operative pain, less blood loss during surgery, shorter hospital stay, quicker return to daily activities, and more natural joint movement.
The type of restrictions after arthroscopic surgery depends on the reason for surgery and the type of procedure. Arthroscopy patients can experience some pain and inflammation post-surgery, which can often be relieved through a combination of rest and prescribed pain medications.
Depending on the type of surgery, patients may be given a physical therapy referral to help restore joint strength, flexibility, and help patients return to their everyday activities. For more minor procedures (including shoulder arthroscopy or removal of a torn meniscus), patients are usually not given any restrictions. For more complex arthroscopic surgery (including rotator cuff, mensical or ACL repairs), patients will have a graduated physical therapy plan in which recovery can take up to 6 months.
As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. While complications occur in less than 1% of all procedures, they can include:
- Blood loss
- Excessive swelling or blood clot
- Damage to normal structures
- Instrument breakage
To ensure a successful recovery, patients should express any concerns or unexpected post-op symptoms to Dr. Kruse and his surgical care team immediately.