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Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique used for both the investigation/diagnosis and treatment of joint problems.
When an arthroscopy is used
It can be useful for investigating chronic joint problems – such as pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of mobility – when other tests and scans have not managed to identify the root cause and conservative treatments have not helped. Common examples include chronic shoulder and knee problems, or unexplained pain in the hand and wrist.
The procedure is performed via small laparoscopic (keyhole) incisions, which means less scarring, faster recovery times and lower risk of infection compared with open surgery. Small and very straightforward arthroscopy procedures can sometimes be carried out with local anaesthetic on a day case basis, while longer procedures will usually require general anaesthetic and you may need to stay overnight in hospital.
If an identifiable cause is detected during the surgery, the surgeon can sometimes carry out necessary repairs during the same procedure, or you might need further treatment afterwards.