OEBB

When is it needed?

Whether to have an arthroscopy should be a cooperative decision made by you, your family, and your family physician. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for a thorough evaluation to determine if you could benefit from this procedure.

Doctors may use arthroscopy to help diagnose and treat a variety of joint conditions — most commonly those affecting the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle, hip and wrist — in people of all ages.

In diagnosis, arthroscopy is an examination, typically performed after X-rays and other imaging studies have left some diagnostic questions unanswered. Often, arthroscopy is also used to assess the results of earlier joint surgery or to supplement some types of standard (“open”) orthopedic surgery.

Conditions treated with arthroscopy include:

  • Bone spurs or loose bone fragments
  • Damaged or torn cartilage
  • Inflamed joint linings
  • Joint infections
  • Torn ligaments
  • Scarring or tissue overgrowth within joints

You have options.  Evidence suggests that, depending on your condition or injury, alternative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medication, and modified physical activity, can work just as well as surgery.  See Alternative Treatments for more information.

Resources

Please visit these resources for more information:

Arthroscopy. Updated July 2008 by: Thomas N. Joseph, MD, Private Practice specializing in Orthopaedics, subspecialty Foot and Ankle, Camden Bone & Joint, Camden, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. National Institutes of Health

Arthroscopy. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 1998-2010.

Arthritis Health Center.  Arthroscopy. 2009. WebMD.

What is arthroscopy? Accessed 2010. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

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