Arthroscopy allows surgeons to use a type of keyhole surgery to diagnose and treat joint problems.
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. Images can then be viewed on a television monitor in the operating theatre. Arthroscopy is 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.
It can be used to diagnose and/or treat many conditions including:
Arthroscopy is often performed as a day case procedure under a general anaesthetic. The surgeon usually makes two tiny incisions (cuts), one for the arthroscope and a second for the surgical instrument itself.
For the first few days you should keep your wrist elevated (raised above the heart) as much as possible and it can help to apply ice (crushed and wrapped in a towel) several times a day to reduce the swelling. Your specialist will also give you some gentle exercises to help restore strength and flexibility.
Everyone is different, so healing and post-operative programmes vary from person to person. However, the schedule of follow-up appointments below is typical:
During the first two weeks, keep the bandaged wrist totally dry; you can shower using a waterproof cover over the site. After that, you can shower as normal if the wounds have healed, but gently dab them dry.
This depends on the type of condition and the exact procedure you have had. Most people are able to return to full activity and sports within three to six months.
Below is a guide to the risks of this type of surgery. Your surgeon will discuss these with you before your procedure and answer any questions you may have:
Infection: The chance of infection is less than 1% and can usually be treated with antibiotics. Significant consequences from infection are very rare (less than 0.5%)
Nerve damage: Small nerves that supply sensation to the skin near the operation site can be damaged, although the risk of this is small (less than 2%)
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): There is no increased risk of DVT following hand surgery.
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.