The technique of arthroscopic elbow surgery has been in use since the 1980’s and has made diagnosing, treating, and recovery from surgery much easier. Due to the small size of the arthroscope and the surgical instruments used, Phoenix orthopedic surgeons are able to perform the surgery through a series of small incisions instead of having to splay open the entire elbow to work inside it.
Keeping the majority of elbow tissue intact during surgery allows for improved benefits including: less procedural pain, less stiffness of the elbow post-surgery, and a shortening of recovery time.
What is an Arthroscopy?
An arthroscopy is the insertion of a small lighted tube containing a camera into the body through a small incision made into the skin. In the case of arthroscopic elbow surgery, a small incision is made into the elbow so that the attending surgeon can insert the camera tube.
The small camera contained in the arthroscopy tube transmits images to a nearby television screen, allowing the surgeon to control and guide their instruments inside the elbow.
What will an Arthroscopic Elbow Surgery Treat?
There are a number of reasons a patient may receive an arthroscopic elbow surgery. Patients who have physical debris in the elbow as a result of arthritic inflammation or injury may experience pain when moving the elbow, and may see a loss of function if the debris works itself into the ligaments of the elbow. Arthroscopic elbow surgery can help to remove a large amount of this debris without requiring the elbow undergo a largely invasive procedure.
Arthritic inflammation may also cause the formation of bone spurs in the elbow, impeding the movement of the joint. One common condition that may cause bone spurs to form is called “Thrower’s Elbow,” and is found commonly in athletes who throw often. Non-surgical treatments may not always be successful and an arthroscopic elbow surgery can provide great benefit.
Patients who have significant cartilage or ligament damage as the result of injury can have their diagnosis performed through an arthroscopic elbow surgery. Imaging techniques such as an X-ray or MRI may not reveal the full amount of damage present. Arthroscopic inspection can potentially reveal the entirety of this damage, allowing the Phoenix orthopedic surgeon to determine if further treatment is required for the patient. If treatment is required, it is often able to be performed immediately as the Phoenix elbow surgeon will already have made incisions into the area.
The Arthroscopic Elbow Surgery Procedure
The surgery can be performed with either regional or general anesthesia, after which the surgeon will make a series of small incisions to work through. The arthroscopic camera will be inserted into one of these incisions, with the required procedural tools inserted into the others. The length of the procedure will vary based on what the goal of surgery is.
Following the surgery, the elbow will be placed into either a splint or soft bandage. Patients will be placed into a physical therapy program in order to regain strength and motion of the joint. The length of rehabilitation will also vary based on which procedure the elbow underwent.