Shoulder Arthroscopy | What to Expect From a Shoulder Arthroscopy

Sep 1, 2022 | Articles

What to Expect When You Undergo Shoulder Arthroscopy

Endoscopes are widely used in medicine. These tubular devices contain lenses and a fibre-optic cable. The latter transmits light to the study area and returns images to the observer’s eye or a monitor screen via a miniature video recorder. They provide users with a magnified view of a body cavity’s interior and are named appropriately. Thus, a bronchoscope is for examining the lungs, while a cystoscope is used to view the bladder. It was a modified version of the latter that first gave orthopaedic surgeons the ability to perform shoulder arthroscopy and similar procedures on other joints.

The instrument marked the start of a new era in orthopaedic surgery. However, it was initially used mainly for diagnostic purposes. It provided a view of the soft tissues associated with a joint superior to that possible with an X-ray. Nevertheless, it was not long before the first enterprising surgeon modified the procedure to perform repairs to damaged joints as a less invasive alternative to open surgery. Initially, the sole focus of this approach was treating conditions affecting the knees and hips. Today, however, surgeons perform shoulder arthroscopy routinely. So what is its purpose, and what can those who undergo this procedure expect?

Painful, swollen joints often respond to analgaesics and other non-surgical therapies, and patients experience a full recovery. However, there are occasions when the palliative approach fails, and surgery remains the only viable option. Labral tears, bone spurs, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff tears, and impingement syndrome are the most common reasons to perform surgery on this particular joint. The traditional approach of exposing the entire joint carries a heightened risk of excessive blood loss and infection. By contrast, the minimally invasive shoulder arthroscopy procedure can reduce these risks substantially, and patients require less time to recover.

facts about shoulder arthroscopy and uses

What to Expect When Going in for The Procedure

Before admitting you for surgery, your specialist will review your health history and request details of all medication you may be taking. It may be necessary to stop taking some meds a few days before the operation. You will also need to fast overnight on the day before your procedure. Additional health checks might include an ECG, chest X-ray, and blood tests.

You will probably be surprised and relieved to learn that shoulder arthroscopy generally takes less than an hour. You will either be in a semi-seated position or lying on your side during the procedure. After numbing the area with a nerve-blocking injection, the surgeon will insert the scope via a buttonhole-sized incision. Additional tiny cuts provide access for the miniaturised instruments necessary to perform the repair. The surgeon may introduce sterile saline into the area to inflate the joint and improve visibility before monitoring each step in the procedure on a monitor screen.

After suturing and applying a sterile dressing, your shoulder arthroscopy is complete, and you will be free to go home. However, you may want to rest for a while before leaving and be sure to arrange a lift home. Your recovery will require mild exercise, physiotherapy, and medication to manage the pain for a time. Do consult your surgeon before returning to work.

Pretoria’s Life Wilgers Hospital orthopaedic department is a leading referral destination for patients requiring joint replacements and minimally invasive joint surgery. You can click here to learn more about shoulder arthroscopy and similar procedures offered by Dr Jan De Vos.

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