An arthroscopic procedure is a procedure performed on a joint that involves the introduction of a camera and various instruments into the joint via small cannulae (metal or plastic tube). The advantage of this is direct visualisation of the inside of the joint, as well as the ability to perform surgery on the structures within the joint. Surgical scars are also smaller and recovery time is reduced.
Arthroscopic procedures are commonly performed on the shoulder and knee. They can also be performed on the elbow and wrist.
Commonly performed procedures
- Arthroscopic acromioplasty for impingement
- Arthroscopic debridement and rotator cuff repair for rotator cuff tendinitis / tears
- Arthroscopiccapsulotomy for frozen shoulder
- Arthroscopic meniscal repair/debridement for meniscal tears
- Arthroscopic ACL reconstruction for ACL tears
Depending on the indication for the procedure you may be able to drive several days afterwards (e.g. Acromioplasty) or be unable to drive for 6 weeks and require crutches (e.g. ACL reconstruction). This will be discussed with you prior to surgery
The articular surfaces of the shoulder joint are covered with a very smooth layer of cartilage. When the cartilage is damaged (E.g. Fracture of the joint) or worn out (E.g. Arthritis) movement of the shoulder becomes very painful and stiff. It may be necessary to replace the cartilage of the joint to relieve pain and improve motion.
An incision is made at the front of the shoulder and the affected joint is cut out and replaced with a metal prosthesis. This reduces the pain and improves motion. After the operation it is necessary to keep the arm in a sling for 6 weeks and to attend physiotherapy. You will be unable to drive for up to 6 weeks depending on which arm is operated on.
Carpal and Cubital Tunnel Release
Patients that experience numbness and muscle wasting from nerve compression at the wrist (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) or the elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome) will benefit from a nerve release.
An incision about 3cm long is made over the affected area and the tight band of fibrous tissue compressing the nerve is excised. Any scar tissue surrounding the nerve is removed. If the compression around the elbow is severe the nerve may need to be moved forward.
Post-operatively the wrist is splinted (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) or the elbow is placed in a sling (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome) for a period of 10-14 days to allow healing to occur. After this, the splint/sling is removed and exercises are started. Lifting heavy objects should be avoided for the first 6 weeks. Driving can be started within 1-2 days after surgery. Exercising/Gym can usually commence within 1 week.
Joint Replacement Thumb
In end stage arthritis of the base of the thumb and Trapeziectomy and Tightrope of the thumb may need to be performed.
The trapezium (small bone at base of thumb) is excised and the thumb is suspended with a tightrope. The hand is placed in a cast for 6 weeks to allow healing to occur. After this period, hand strengthening with an occupational therapist needs to be started. This procedure treats the pain and difficulty grasping objects caused by the arthritis extremely well.
Driving can be started within 1-2 days. If you are doing exercises that can be continued with the cast e.g. walking or running, then you may start exercising within 1 week of the surgery.