Arthroscopic surgery is a type of surgery orthopaedic surgeons use to see, diagnose, and treat conditions inside a joint.
The word “arthroscopy” comes from the Greek words, "arthro" (joint) and "skopein" (to look). Arthroscopy literally means "to look inside the joint."
In an arthroscopic procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the patient's skin. Pencil-sized instruments are then inserted inside the joint. These instruments contain a small magnifying lens and fiber optic light to allow the surgeon to access and see the structures inside the joint.
By attaching the arthroscope to a small camera, the surgeon is able to see the interior of the joint through this very small incision rather than a large incision needed for surgery. The surgeon can determine the amount or type of injury and then repair the problem, if it is necessary.
Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, this means recovery if faster and less painful than "open" surgery. However, arthroscopic surgery still requires the use of anesthetics in a hospital operating room or outpatient surgical center.
Small incisions will be made to insert the arthroscope to see other parts of the joint or insert other instruments. Corrective surgery may be performed with specially designed instruments that are inserted into the joint through accessory incisions.