Arthro means joint and scope means camera. Athroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that uses very small incisions that allow a camera and instruments to be put into the joint. Each incision is approximately 4mm and often surgery can be done making 4 to 5 such small incisions.
Wrist arthroscopy is a great tool. It can also be used to treat many conditions that otherwise would require a much larger open incision. This can include removal of loose bodies, synovectomy (cleaning out inflammation), treatment of arthritis and treatment of elbow stiffness.
What is the advantage of arthroscopy?
Because the incisions are small, there is much less pain than a larger surgery and often the recovery can be quick. In addition, the arthroscope allows access deep in the elbow and essentially in all areas of the elbow and so with several very small incisions, you can see up close and be very thorough.
Can all surgeons do elbow arthroscopy?
Very few surgeons perform elbow arthroscopy and it takes both special training and special equipment.
Are there risks of arthroscopy?
Yes, unfortunately there are risks to almost all surgeries. The main risk of elbow arthroscopy is injury to one of the nerves. About 10 years ago, they changed improved the portals or entry sites. Prior to that, the risk was about 1%. Now the risk is much lower.