Arthroscopic surgery is used to diagnose and treat many joint problems. It is commonly performed to evaluate and repair ligament injuries; remove scar tissue, damaged cartilage and bone fragments; and evaluate the extent of arthritis.
Expanding the Joint
Small incisions are made on each side of the front of the ankle. Fluid is injected into the joint. This expands the joint, giving the surgeon a clear view and room to work. One or two additional incisions may be necessary.
The surgeon inserts an arthroscope, which has a fiber-optic light and small television camera. With the video images as a guide, the surgeon can look for damaged tissue. If the surgeon sees an opportunity to treat a problem, other small instruments may be inserted.
After the instruments are removed, the surgeon may close the incisions with stitches or tape. Recovery from arthroscopy is usually faster than traditional open joint surgery.
End of Procedure and Aftercare
Following surgery, the joint may be sore and swollen for four to six weeks. Depending on the extent of injury and treatment, patients may be allowed to stand with crutches, they may be instructed to wear a walking cast or splint, or they may have to keep off their feet for several weeks.