Arthroscopy is one of the greatest advances in surgery in the past century. Basically, arthroscopic surgery uses cameras and tools on cables to look at small areas such as joints, without opening the entire area. Dr. Nickson can diagnose and treat your knee, ankle, shoulder, or virtually any joint—all in one procedure.
Usually, the patient is asleep, to minimize pain and anxiety. Then Dr. Nickson makes two or three small incisions around the joint. He inserts a tiny camera into the incision to give him a better look at the affected area.
Arthroscopy has a wide range of benefits. Here are five big reasons to consider arthroscopic surgery for your sore joint.
1. Diagnostic accuracy
Because Dr. Nickson can look at the joint in real time, he can diagnose the problem with a great deal more accuracy. Sure, X-rays can show a break. They may even show a large tear in a tendon. Most X-rays, however, can’t show tiny tears in ligaments. In addition, joints, by their nature, are a mixture of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bone. Static diagnostic tools such as X-rays and MRIs can only show so much. The camera used in arthroscopy allows Dr. Nickson to see between layers of tissue to get a true picture of the problem. Finally, he can manipulate the joint while the camera is inserted, so he can see how your joint looks as it works.
2. Shorter surgery
Because the patient is already asleep, it is simple for Dr. Nickson to repair any damage he sees while he is already in the joint. This means that you may only be in surgery for roughly an hour. Because the incisions are small, there is less risk of blood loss during surgery, and less risk of blood clots after surgery. Additionally, the less time you are under general anesthetic, the faster and better you will recover from the anesthesia. It also means that you can go home faster. Many people who have arthroscopic surgery go home the same day.
3. Less risk of infection
Your skin is your body’s first defense against infection. Whenever a surgeon opens your skin, there is always a risk. That risk doesn’t usually come from tools or surgical instruments since they are all inspected and sterilized. What most people don’t realize is that the greatest risk of infection comes from the germs you carry on your own skin. The more skin the surgeon opens, the greater the risk. But the opposite is also true. Since arthroscopy uses tiny incisions, the risk of infection is drastically reduced.
4. Shorter recovery
The faster you go home and can get back into your healthy routine, the faster you can recover. Because arthroscopy is minimally invasive, you don’t have large incisions with dozens of stitches that must be tended. The tiny incisions may only need a single stitch or may be closed with nothing more than a butterfly bandage. Fewer stitches mean less trauma to the area from the surgery. Instead, it allows your body to focus on healing the area that was fixed. Many people are able to get back to their normal routine within a few days. Some may need crutches or a sling for a few days, but many patients don’t even need that.
5. Fewer scars
Let’s face it, nobody likes scars. They can be unsightly and almost always require explanation. Beyond that, scars around joints present special problems. The thicker skin and heavier cells can restrict your range of motion, especially if they are large or long. Finally, it’s difficult to keep scars closed around moving joints. Often just using your knee, shoulder, or ankle can stretch that healing skin and make your scars wider, lengthening healing time. Since arthroscopic surgery uses tiny incisions, scars are smaller. They are easier to keep closed because they are supported by the skin around them. Oftentimes, scars are so small and soft that they aren’t noticeable at all.