What is arthroscopy?
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 3mm and often surgery can be done making 3 to 4 such small incisions.
What sort surgeries can be done arthroscopically?
Wrist arthroscopy is a great tool. It can be used for chronic pain where the diagnosis is uncertain. This is called diagnostic arthroscopy. It can also be used to treat many conditions that otherwise would require a much larger open incision. This can include synovectomy (cleaning out inflammation), repair of ligaments (especially the ligament on the small finger side of the wrist, the TFCC) and even some fractures of the wrist.
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 wrist and essentially in all areas of the wrist and so with a small incision, you can see up close and be thorough.
Why not just do an MRI?
Recent studies have shown MRI to be significantly less accurate than wrist arthroscopy. In addition, MRI cannot be used to treat. That is, with arthroscopy, diagnosis can be made and often the problem can be treated.
Can all surgeons do wrist arthroscopy?
Not all hand surgeons perform small joint arthroscopy and it takes both special training and special equipment.