When it comes to examining, diagnosing and treating joint problems, orthopedic surgeons perform a special surgical procedure called an “arthroscopy”.
Derived from the Greek words “arthro” and “skopein” (“joint” and “to look”, respectively), an arthroscopy allows a surgeon to literally look inside a joint before treating it.
The procedure begins with the surgeon making an incision in the skin over the afflicted joint. A small instrument called an arthroscope is then inserted into the incision, and the examination can begin. This instrument is no bigger than a pencil and contains a small camera and light fiberoptics.
As the camera moves around the joint, the video feed is transmitted to a monitor in the operating room, allowing the surgeon to get a good look at any internal joint injuries or other wear and tear. The surgeon can then assess the condition of the joint and even make repairs if necessary.
One of the main benefits of this procedure is that it is minimally invasive. Instead of making a large incision and pulling back the skin to get a full look at the joint, the surgeon only needs a small incision and an arthroscope. They can view ligaments and cartilage in up-close detail and even make repairs to any damage without ever needing to fully open the patient up.