Shoulder arthroscopy is minimally invasive and is conducted to diagnose and treat problems which affect the joint. This includes disease, subacromial impingement, rotator cuff tears, slap lesions, shoulder instability (Bankart lesions), acromioclavicular osteoarthritis, frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) and removal of loose of bodies.
The arthroscopic procedure
- The patient undergoes general anesthesia
- His/her skin is disinfected and a sterile drape is used to cover the non-operative site
- In most cases the surgeon makes three small incisions by the shoulder joint
- Saline (sterile salt water) is then pumped into the joint to expand it; this creates space for the arthroscope and other tools to be guided to the problem area
- The arthroscope, once inserted into the joint, aids the surgeon in his investigation for any trauma, disease or degenerative changes
- Treatment is carried out through the second or third incision, with specially designed medical tools
- The incisions are sutured at the end of the operation and a sterile bandage is applied
An Arthroscope is a slender telescope fitted with a lens system and fibreoptic illumination; it projects a magnified image of the inside of a joint onto a television monitor. The surgeon uses the arthroscope to see the structures of the shoulder during the diagnosing or operating stage.
Shoulder arthroscopy is recommended to a patient when they are experiencing ongoing pain or discomfort. In most cases, non-surgical treatments are carried out first. If they are not a sufficient treatment, arthroscopy is performed.
The common causes for arthroscopic shoulder surgery are injury, overuse (through repetitive motion), diseases and age-related degenerative changes. It is important to treat damages, as they can escalate to more severe conditions.
Symptoms of an unhealthy joint include:
- loss of mobility and strength
- clicking or popping when the arm is raised or lowered
- stiffness in the joint
For non-surgical treatment please see Arthroscopy.