shoulder arthroscopy

What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery used to diagnose and treat shoulder problems. You might have arthroscopy for rotator cuff tears or shoulder impingement. Minimally invasive procedures require smaller incisions than traditional surgery. Each incision is about the size of a keyhole.

Your surgeon inserts a small camera called an arthroscope through a tiny incision in your skin. This camera projects pictures of your shoulder joint to a video screen. Your provider looks at these images to find the source of your injury. If you need a shoulder repair, the provider uses miniature surgical instruments to restore your shoulder’s mobility.

Why is Shoulder Arthroscopy Done?

Shoulder arthroscopy helps healthcare providers find and treat shoulder pain that has not responded to nonsurgical treatments. Nonsurgical treatments for shoulder pain include physical therapy, medication, injections and rest.

What are the advantages of Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Advantages of arthroscopy over open surgery include: less scarring, less muscle damage, a better view of the structures inside the joint and access to areas of the joint that are traditionally hard to reach via open approaches. Also, the risk of infection after keyhole surgery is much lower than after open surgery and nerve damage and bleeding are also very rare with keyhole techniques. Modern instruments and implants allow us to achieve reliable reconstructions arthroscopically with outcomes as good, or better than via open techniques.

What types of injuries can Shoulder Arthroscopy treat?

How is Shoulder Arthroscopy performed?

Shoulder arthroscopy can be performed either with you lying on your side, or with you sitting up as if in a deck chair. Tiny incisions are made around your shoulder to allow the telescope and instruments to be maneuvered inside your joint.

During arthroscopic surgery sterile saline is run through your shoulder to widen the joint space and keep the view clear. Some of the fluid is absorbed and this causes your shoulder region to swell during the operation. This swelling subsides in the first few hours after your operation and fluid will also leak out from your wounds. A padded dressing is therefore applied at the end of your operation to absorb this leakage. Arthroscopic scars heal very well and over time become barely visible.

What is the recovery like after Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Your shoulder joint will take weeks to months to completely heal after shoulder arthroscopy. You may notice pain and swelling for at least several weeks.

Ice and pain medication can help with pain relief. You can also try sleeping propped up in a chair or bed for a few days after your surgery. Your surgeon may recommend a sling to protect your shoulder.

A rehabilitation plan includes gentle exercise and physical therapy. It can increase your shoulder movement and strength. Your healthcare provider will give you a rehab plan that suits your specific shoulder surgery.

What are the potential complications?

Complications of shoulder arthroscopy are uncommon, but do rarely occur. Infection rates tend to be very low due to the small size of the incision. The most common complication of surgery on the shoulder is stiffness after surgery and prolonged rehabilitation. This can usually be managed with physical therapy.

Occasionally, shoulder arthroscopy can lead to a frozen shoulder that can make rehab challenging. One rare complication of shoulder arthroscopy is called chondrolysis. This is a very unusual, but particularly serious complication seen after arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

If you have exhausted conservative, non-surgical treatment methods for your shoulder pain, you should speak with your doctor about Shoulder Arthroscopy. To schedule a consultation with one of our Shoulder Arthroscopy experts, call (937) 436-5763.