Arthroscopy, commonly known as keyhole surgery, is a type of operation that can be used to treat many joint problems without having to open up the whole joint. Keyhole surgery involves small incisions, usually one for a camera and one or more for instruments to allow the surgeon to work on the inside of your joint. It saves having a large open incision for a surgeon to look at the joint directly and operate.
Joint keyhole surgery can be used to look at structures within a joint, remove troublesome tissue or repair a damaged structure.
Knee arthroscopy is the most common keyhole surgery performed for musculoskeletal problems. Other joints that commonly have keyhole surgery include the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip and ankles.
There are many advantages to performing keyhole surgery, including to reduce the pain after the surgery, recover more quickly and lower risks of the operation.
If you have a problematic joint that fails to improve with simple measures, your doctor may refer you to a specialist. Depending on what the problem is, the surgeon may offer you a keyhole operation.
If you have decided to go ahead with an arthroscopy you will first be seen in a pre-assessment clinic in the hospital to make sure that you are fit enough for an anaesthetic, and you may have blood tests.
Most keyhole surgery is performed as a day case procedure, where you go home on the same day as the surgery. Depending on the nature of your operation and what your surgeon needs to do, you may require a certain time resting, or using crutches if you've had an operation on your lower limbs.
You will usually be seen in the hospital several weeks after your joint keyhole surgery to check how you are doing and ensure that the surgery has been a success. It is important to remember, however, that any surgical procedure can take many weeks to months to see improvement and a full recovery.
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