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What is Arthroscopy?

An arthroscope is round, tube-shaped surgical instrument with a small lens attached to one end that functions like a camera. A light on the other enables the surgeon to illuminate and magnify structures inside joints without the need for large incisions. Using the arthroscope as a guide, the surgeon uses other small surgical tools to perform precise procedures for the minimally invasive repair of damage to joint bones, cartilage or surrounding tissues.

How is it Performed?

While performing an arthroscopic procedure, the surgeon inserts the arthroscope through a very small incision in the shoulder joint. He may also make additional incisions for insertion of tools used in laparoscopic or arthroscopic procedures to repair torn muscles, tendons or ligaments in the shoulder. Shoulder arthroscopic procedures are also performed to remove bone spurs or to repair cartilage. Shoulder arthroscopy is generally an outpatient procedure, with patients discharged home within a couple hours following the procedure.


Considered a minimally invasive procedure, arthroscopy allows your doctor or surgeon to view the interior joint structures, synovial capsules, cartilage, tendon, ligament and bone structures or other joint components for the accurate diagnosis of fractures, ligament or tendon tears, and bone damage. The small incisions used for an arthroscopic approach reduce pain, risk of infection, healing and 'down' time.


Arthroscopy is used primarily for diagnostics. Using an arthroscope, your doctor can diagnose:

  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Impingement syndrome
  • Dislocations
  • Meniscal tears
  • Anterior cruciate ligament tears
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Torn joint cartilage

How Long Does it Take?

The procedure is usually performed in less than 30 minutes. You may experience some soreness in the area for several days following the procedure. In most cases, patients are allowed to return to work or school within a few days following arthroscopy, but recovery time and rehabilitation needs are based on individual cases, location of the arthroscopy and your current physical condition.