Shoulder & Knee Arthroscopy

The orthopedic surgeons at Virginia Mason use arthroscopy as a method of viewing a joint, and, if needed, to perform surgery on a joint. An arthroscope consists of a tiny tube, a lens and a light source. The device is inserted into a small incision and allows Virginia Mason surgeons to look for joint damage or disease. The device also allows our surgeons to perform reconstructive procedures on the joint, if needed.

About Shoulder Arthroscopy
Shoulder arthroscopy is a type of surgery that uses a small camera (arthroscope) inserted through a small incision to examine or repair the tissues inside or around your shoulder joint. For information about shoulder arthroscopy surgery at Virginia Mason, call (206) 341-3000.

Arthroscopy may be recommended for shoulder problems, such as:

  • A torn or damaged cartilage ring (labrum) or ligaments (in cases of shoulder instability)
  • A torn or damaged biceps tendon
  • A torn rotator cuff
  • A bone spur or inflammation around the rotator cuff
  • Stiffness of the shoulder
  • Inflammation or damaged lining of the joint
  • Arthritis of the end of the clavicle

Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery
Shoulder arthroscopy procedures may differ, but most involve:

  • The surgeon makes a small incision, about one-quarter inch long, near the shoulder joint.
  • A small camera (arthroscope) is then inserted into the joint. The camera is attached to a video monitor to allow the surgeon to see inside the joint.
  • Use of a nerve block may be used to numb your shoulder and arm to help reduce pain after surgery.
  • The surgeon will look around the entire joint to check the cartilage, tendons and ligaments of the shoulder. If damaged tissues need to be repaired, the surgeon will make one to three additional small incisions to insert other instruments. These may include a blunt hook to pull on tissues, a shaver to remove damaged or unwanted tissues and a burr to remove bone.
  • In addition to working on the shoulder joint, the surgeon often places the camera in the space above the rotator cuff tendons. The surgeon can evaluate the area above the rotator cuff, clean out inflamed or damaged tissue, remove a bone spur and fix a rotator cuff tear.
  • At the end of the surgery, the fluid is drained from the shoulder, the small incisions are closed and a dressing is applied.

After Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery
As compared to an "open" surgery, the minimally invasive arthroscopy results in less pain and stiffness, fewer complications, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery time. Using arthroscopy for rotator cuff repairs or tendonitis usually relieves the pain, but you may or may not regain all of your strength.

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About Knee Arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which a small camera is used to examine tissues inside the knee joint. For more information about knee arthroscopy surgery at Virginia Mason, call (206) 341-3000.

Arthroscopy may be recommended for knee problems, such as:

  • A torn meniscus (either repair or removal)
  • Mild arthritis
  • Loose bodies (small pieces of broken cartilage) in the knee joint
  • A torn or damaged anterior cruciate or posterior cruciate ligament
  • Inflamed or damaged lining of the joint
  • Misalignment of the knee cap

Knee Arthroscopy Surgery
Knee arthroscopy procedures may differ, but most involve:

  • The surgeon inserts a small camera, less than one-quarter inch in diameter, into the knee joint through a small incision. The camera is attached to a video monitor, which the surgeon uses to see inside the knee.
  • For a simple surgical procedure, a local or regional anesthetic is administered, which numbs the affected area.
  • After the camera is inserted, saline is pumped in under pressure to expand the joint and to help control bleeding.
  • After looking around the entire knee for problem areas, the surgeon usually makes one to four additional small incisions to insert other instruments. Commonly used instruments include a blunt hook to pull on various tissues, a shaver to remove damaged or unwanted soft tissues and a burr to remove bone. A heat probe may also be used to remove inflammation in the joint.
  • At the completion of the surgery, the saline is drained from the knee, the incisions closed and a dressing applied.

After Knee Arthroscopy Surgery
As compared to an "open" surgery, the minimally invasive arthroscopy results in less pain and stiffness, fewer complications, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery time.

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