When you're in a surgical consultation with your doctor or a specialist, it's normal to feel a little nervous and overwhelmed. As such, you might not stop and ask your surgeon to define words you don't understand — like arthroscopic. If you've been told you need arthroscopic surgery, you might be a bit confused or perplexed, but not for long! Keep reading to learn what this means and what this type of surgery involves.

What is arthroscopic surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a type of surgery that is performed through a small incision, using an instrument called an endoscope. An endoscope is basically a camera that your surgeon can feed into the area to be operated on, through that small incision. They'll also feed in special tools for cutting tissues, suturing tissues, and performing any other functions necessary during your specific surgical procedure. They'll use the image on a screen, generated by the endoscope, to guide them during surgery.

What types of surgery are performed arthroscopically?

Surgeons have been performing a lot of joint surgeries this way for years. They can repair torn ACLs and other ligaments, repair torn tendons, and even remove tissue that has been damaged by arthritis. Surgeries on knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, and elbows are all often performed arthroscopically.

Over the past several decades, the technology for arthroscopic surgery has improved. Surgeons can now perform almost all joint surgeries in this way, so it is becoming more and more common for this option to be recommended to patients.

What are the advantages of performing surgery in this way?

In other words, why is your surgeon recommending arthroscopic surgery rather than traditional, open surgery, where a large incision is used to expose the joint? There are a few reasons.

1. Arthroscopic surgery reduces healing time.

The incisions are smaller, and less damage is done to the surrounding muscle with arthroscopic surgery. As such, you will heal from surgery a lot faster.

2. Arthroscopic surgery often makes general anesthesia unnecessary.

General anesthesia presents a whole new set of risks for patients. You also have to fast for 12 hours or more before being put under general anesthesia. With arthroscopic surgery, you can usually get by with just a local anesthetic and a sedative. In other words, you'll be awake (although sedated) during surgery, but the area operated on will be numb.

3. Arthroscopic surgery causes less obvious scars.

The scars from the incisions are smaller. Most people prefer this for aesthetic reasons once they are healed.

It's common for surgeons to recommend an arthroscopic approach if you need joint surgery. Now, you have a better idea of what that really means. For more information about arthroscopy, contact a local practice like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C.