Shoulder arthroscopy is indicated to treat several shoulder conditions when conservative treatment such as medication and therapy fails to relieve pain and disability. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical procedure performed for joint problems. Shoulder arthroscopy is performed using a pencil-sized instrument called an Arthroscope. The arthroscope consists of a light system and camera to project images to a monitor for your surgeon to view the surgical site. Arthroscopy is used to treat disease conditions and injuries involving the bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the shoulder joint. Some of the most common reasons for shoulder arthroscopy are: Impingement (this occurs when the shoulder blade applies pressure on the underlying soft tissues when the arm is lifted), rotator cuff tear, frozen shoulder or stiffness of the shoulder joint, instability that occurs when the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) slips out of the socket of the shoulder blade's glenoid cavity either due to injury or overuse, biceps rupture, damaged cartilage or ligaments, bone spurs or bony projections, arthritis of the collarbone.
Shoulder arthroscopy is generally an outpatient procedure and may be performed under general or regional anesthesia. You may be positioned lying down on your side with your arm propped up or sitting in a semi-seated position. The surgeon creates 3-4, one centimeter incisions, sterile fluid is injected into the shoulder joint to expand the surgical area so your surgeon has a clear view of the damage and room to work. Through one of the button-sized holes the arthroscope is inserted. Your surgeon can view images captured by the camera in the arthroscope on a large monitor. Surgical instruments are introduced into the joint through separate small holes to remove and repair the damage to the joint. After surgery, the instruments are removed and the incisions are closed with stitches or small sterile bandage strips.
After the surgery, the small surgical wounds take a few days to heal and the surgical dressing is replaced by simple Band-Aids. It usually takes about 1-2 hours from the time you are brought back for your surgery until you are returned to the recovery room. The recovery time depends on the type and extent of problem for which the procedure was performed. Pain medications are prescribed to keep you comfortable. The arm of the affected shoulder is placed in a sling for a short period as recommended by your doctor. Physical therapy is advised to improve shoulder mobility and strength after the surgery.