Arthroscopy, sometimes called arthroscopic surgery - or, as patients may refer to the procedure, "being scoped" - is one of the minimally invasive joint surgery options offered at Virginia Hospital Center. More than 650,000 arthroscopic procedures are performed in the United States each year, and the technique is popular for good reason, as it has a number of advantages over traditional "open" surgeries.
Whereas conventional "open" surgeries typically require large incisions, arthroscopies are performed via two small (no larger than the size of a penny) openings: one for the arthroscope (the "scope") and one for surgical instruments. The scope - roughly four millimeters in diameter for knee repairs and even tinier for joints such as wrists and ankles - has fiber optic cameras on its end and transmits images to a monitor that the surgeon uses to guide surgical instruments to the site and repair the damage.
Because arthroscopic incisions are so small, patients recover from surgeries more quickly and with less pain and fewer complications. In addition, many arthroscopic procedures can be done under local or regional anesthesia and thus on an outpatient basis. These benefits are available to arthroscopy patients with a variety of joint injuries, including torn cartilage and/or ligaments in the knee, rotator cuff damage in the shoulder and certain hip, ankle, elbow and wrist traumas.