Monday, March 24, 2008

Arthroscopy: Part 1: What is Arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy: Part 1. What is Arthroscopy?

What is Arthroscopy? it is a surgical procedure that our orthopaedic surgeons use to visualise, diagnose and treat problems within our joints.

Since this technique became available back in the 1970's, tens of thousands of patients have preferred it over other types of surgery because the scars are smaller, the stay in hospital much shorter and the recovery quicker.

The word arthroscopy comes from two Greek words, 'arthros' meaning joint, and 'skopein', meaning to look. The term literally means to 'look within the joint'.

In an arthroscopic examination, the orthopaedic surgeon makes a small incision in the patient's skin and then inserts a pencil sized fibre- optic telescope, called an arthroscope, into the joint. The arthroscope has a small minature lens and a lighting system that magnifies and illuminates the structure inside the joint.

The small instrument varies from 2.5 to 5.0 millimeters in diameter. Light is transmitted through fibre-optic cables to the end of the artroscope which is inserted into the joint. By using a small video camera and a television screen the surgeon can see inside of the joint.

The video camera attached to the arthroscope displays the image of the joint on the television monitor. The enlarged image on the screen allows the surgeon to look directly at the joint, determine the extent of the injuries, and then perform the particuler surgical procedure required, if necessary.

What we have seen so far is an alternative to the old open surgery where a long incision was made to allow the surgeon to get into and see what damage had occurred and what was needed to repair the joint. Recovery was longer in this type of operation.

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