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Arthroscopy allows surgeons to use a type of keyhole surgery to diagnose and treat joint problems.

What is arthroscopy?

A small telescope (arthroscope) with a light source and a camera – about the width of a drinking straw ─ allows the surgeon to view the inside of the joint and treat a range of problems. The surgeon views images from the camera on a monitor in the operating theatre.

Procedures are usually carried out under a general anaesthetic as a day case. Because only tiny incisions are made, recovery time is much quicker than with conventional surgery.

What types of foot and ankle surgery are performed with arthroscopy?

Procedures include:

  • Ankle fusion surgery
  • Foot fusion surgery
  • Toe fusion surgery
  • Ankle joint ligament inspection and tidying (debridement) of the ankle to remove inflammation/bone/scar tissue
  • Ankle osteochondral defects of joint surface (OCDs)
  • Big toe joint inspection and debridement
  • Achilles tendonoscopy – to inspect the tendon and remove scarring
  • Peroneal/tibialis posterior tendoscopy – to inspect the tendons and remove small tendon tears or areas of tendon wear and tear

What are the advantages of arthroscopy?

  • The scar over the operation site is smaller than with conventional surgery. This helps with healing, as well as reducing permanent scarring
  • The length of your hospital stay is likely to be shorter because the procedure is less invasive
  • The healing and rehabilitation time can be shorter
  • The outcome of foot fusion surgery and ankle fusion surgery is improved with arthroscopic techniques as bones are more likely to fuse (join) successfully

What are the disadvantages of arthroscopy?

  • As with any surgery, there is a risk of damage to nerves and other blood vessels
  • The technique can be challenging, especially in repeated surgical cases or where there is deformity
  • The surgeon may have to resort to open surgery if attempted arthroscopy is difficult but this will be discussed with you before the procedure

Important:This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery