Arthroscopy has been used for several years in larger joints such as knees and shoulders, but as technology advances, so does the equipment involved in arthroscopy. Today, even conditions arising in the small joints of our extremities can be diagnosed and treated using arthroscopic surgery. At Orthopedic Specialists of Seattle, our hand surgeon, Dr. Wayne Weil, frequently uses arthroscopic surgery to treat conditions of the hands, wrists and elbows.
Arthroscopy is an outpatient surgical procedure, where the surgeon makes small incisions and inserts a pencil-sized instrument called an arthroscope. The arthroscope contains a small lens, a minature camera, and a lighting system, and is connected to a television monitor. In this way, surgeon can look directly inside the joint and identify the problem. In many cases, tiny instruments can be utilized to correct problems at the same time.
Wrist arthroscopy may be used to smooth bone surfaces and removed inflamed tissue, and can be used to treat chronic wrist pain, wrist fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglion cysts and tears in the ligaments or triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC). Arthroscopy can also be utilized for wrist fractures; orthopedic surgeons can remove small fragments and fracture debris, align the broken pieces of bone, and stabilize them by using pins, wires, or screws.
Elbow arthroscopy has recently become useful in a procedure treating cubital tunnel syndrome, or ulnar nerve compression. It is also used for other conditions such as tennis elbow, post traumatic contracture releases, arthritis and loose body removal.
Arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure and most patients are home within several hours of surgery. Because it’s minimally invasive, patients generally experience fewer problems and a more rapid recovery than with open surgery, making it a valuable diagnostic and treatment tool.