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Arthroscopy (ahr-THROS-kuh-pee) is a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems. A surgeon inserts a narrow tube attached to a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision — about the size of a buttonhole. The view inside your joint is transmitted to a high-definition video monitor.

Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision. Surgeons can even repair some types of joint damage during arthroscopy, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted through additional small incisions.

Why it's done

Doctors use arthroscopy to help diagnose and treat a variety of joint conditions, most commonly those affecting the:

  • imageKnee
  • imageShoulder
  • imageElbow
  • imageAnkle
  • imageHip
  • imageWrist
Diagnostic procedures

Doctors often turn to arthroscopy if X-rays and other imaging studies have left some diagnostic questions unanswered.

Surgical procedures

Conditions treated with arthroscopy include:

  • imageLoose bone fragments
  • imageDamaged or torn cartilage
  • imageInflamed joint linings
  • imageTorn ligaments
  • imageScarring within joints


Arthroscopy is a very safe procedure and complications are uncommon. Problems may include:

  • imageTissue or nerve damage
  • imageInfection
  • imageBlood clots

How you prepare

Exact preparations depend on which of your joints the surgeon is examining or repairing. In general, you should:

  • imageAvoid certain medications
  • imageFast beforehand
  • imageArrange for a ride
  • imageChoose loose clothing

What you can expect

Although the experience varies depending on why you're having the procedure and which joint is involved, some aspects of arthroscopy are fairly standard.

  • imageYou'll remove your street clothes and jewelry and put on a hospital gown or shorts.
  • imageA nurse will place an intravenous catheter in your hand or forearm and inject a mild sedative.
During the procedure

The type of anesthesia used varies by procedure.

  • imageLocal anesthesia. Numbing agents are injected below the skin to block sensation in a limited area, such as your knee. You'll be awake during your arthroscopy, but the most you'll feel is pressure or a sensation of movement within the joint.
  • imageRegional anesthesia. The most common form of regional anesthesia is delivered through a small needle placed between two of your spine's lumbar vertebrae. This numbs the bottom half of your body, but you remain awake.
  • imageGeneral anesthesia. Depending on the length of the operation, it may be better for you to be unconscious during the procedure. General anesthesia is delivered through a vein (intravenously).

You'll be placed in the best position for the procedure you're having. This may be on your back or your side. The limb being worked on will be placed in a positioning device, and a tourniquet might be used to decrease blood loss and enhance visibility inside the joint.

Another technique to improve the view inside your joint involves filling the joint with a sterile fluid. This expands the area around the joint.

One small incision is made for the viewing device. Additional small incisions at different points around the joint allow the surgeon to insert surgical tools to grasp, cut, grind and provide suction as needed for joint repair.

Incisions will be small enough to be closed with one or two stitches, or with narrow strips of sterile adhesive tape.

After the procedure

Arthroscopic surgery usually doesn't take long. For example, arthroscopy of the knee takes about an hour. After that, you'll be taken to a separate room to recover for a few hours before going home.

Your aftercare may include:

  • imageMedications
  • imageR.I.C.E.
  • imageProtection
  • imageExercises

Call your surgeon if you develop:

  • imageA fever
  • imagePain not helped by medication
  • imageDrainage from your incision
  • imageRedness or swelling
  • imageNew numbness or tingling


In general, you should be able to resume desk work and light activity in a few days. You'll likely be able to drive again in one to three weeks, and engage in more strenuous activity a few weeks after that.

However, not everyone's recovery is the same. Your situation might dictate a longer recovery period and rehabilitation.

Your surgeon will review the findings of the arthroscopy with you as soon as possible and may send a written report. Your surgeon will continue to monitor your progress in follow-up visits and address problems.

About Doctor:

Dr.KHALEELULLAH is a renowned gold medal award-winning Orthopaedician in Hyderabad. He has got extensive experience of more than 15 years and positioned himself as the best orthopedic surgeon in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. He worked for nearly 8 years in the prestigious Nizams Institute of Medical Sciences(NIMS), Hyderabad where he acquired vast skills and knowledge about managing complicated orthopedic problems. He proved himself as the right Ortho Surgeon with MCH specialization with his deep interest in the area of joint reconstruction surgeries.