Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery | Orthopaedic Surgeons in Pretoria

Apr 11, 2023 | Articles, Blog

What Is Meant by Shoulder Arthroscopy?

When you suffer from pain in your shoulder, whether it’s from a sports injury, accident, or other causes, orthopaedic surgeons often use shoulder arthroscopy surgery to diagnose and treat your condition.

This is a valuable tool for surgeons and it can often prevent shoulder injuries from advancing and requiring more complex and invasive surgical procedures like a complete shoulder replacement.

We look at what shoulder arthroscopy surgery entails, how it works, and what the benefits are.

What Is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves the use of a small camera, called an arthroscope, and other specialised instruments to diagnose and treat various shoulder problems.

During the procedure, the arthroscope is inserted through a small incision in the shoulder and images of the joint are transmitted to a video screen, allowing the surgeon to visualise and evaluate the shoulder joint.

The camera is attached to a thin tube which allows it to be easily inserted through the small incision. The surgeon uses it to inspect all the shoulder tissues, including the bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.

The procedure typically requires general anaesthesia where the patient is asleep during the procedure. However, patients may also get regional anaesthesia to numb the shoulder and surrounding area, allowing the patient to be awake for the procedure but feel no pain or discomfort.

The procedure typically takes between 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the complexity of the problem. It can be done as an in-patient procedure, where the patient is taken to a recovery area and monitored until the anaesthesia wears off and sent home the same day.

After the Procedure

Following the procedure, patients may experience some discomfort and swelling in the shoulder, but these symptoms are usually mild and can be effectively managed with pain medication. Physical therapy may be recommended to help the patient regain strength and range of motion in the shoulder.

What Conditions Can Shoulder Arthroscopy Treat?

Surgeons can use arthroscopy surgery to diagnose and treat a wide range of shoulder conditions, including rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, frozen shoulder, and impingement syndrome.

The Benefits of Arthroscopy

Here are some of the benefits of shoulder arthroscopy surgery:

  • Minimally invasive: It is a minimally invasive procedure that involves small incisions, resulting in less pain, scarring, and recovery time compared to traditional open surgery.
  • Accurate diagnosis: The arthroscope allows the surgeon to see inside the shoulder joint and identify any problems that may not be visible on an MRI or X-ray.
  • Targeted treatment: The procedure allows the surgeon to precisely target and treat the affected area, minimising damage to surrounding tissues.
  • Faster recovery: Patients who undergo shoulder arthroscopy typically experience less pain and a faster recovery time compared to open surgery.
  • Reduced risk of complications: It has a lower risk of complications compared to open surgery, such as infection, bleeding, and nerve damage.

Overall, it is an effective procedure that can help diagnose and treat a range of shoulder conditions with minimal risk and faster recovery times.


Although this is a minimally invasive surgery and generally considered safe, always discuss your options with your healthcare professional to determine the best treatment for your shoulder issues.

As a world-renowned orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Jan de Vos heads the orthopaedic unit at the Life Wilgers Hospital in Pretoria. Get in touch today to arrange a consultation.