Shoulder Scopes

Shoulder Scopes



Arthroscopy of the shoulder is a surgical procedure that is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon to evaluate, diagnose, and/or correct problems in and around the shoulder joint. The term arthroscopy is a very broad term as many different procedures can be performed using an arthroscope.

There are several reasons why your surgeon would recommend that you consider shoulder arthroscopy. First and foremost, shoulder problems are initially treated non-surgically. Treatments may include activity modification, anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone injections, and physical therapy. If you fail to improve with non-surgical treatments, arthroscopy may be recommended.

By inserting a small camera and surgical instruments into your shoulder, your surgeon is able to remove bone spurs associated with arthritis, remove or repair torn cartilage, clean up inflamed tissue, repair a torn rotator cuff, and in some cases, tighten the capsule around the shoulder after a shoulder dislocation.

Shoulder arthroscopy is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Some patients who have elevated health risks may be required to stay overnight in a hospital following arthroscopy. Various types of anesthesia may be used including a nerve block to the shoulder and arm as well as a general anesthetic.

The surgeon will make several small cuts into the shoulder to insert the camera following injecting the joint with saline. This allows for full visualization of the joint and surrounding tissues. MRI’s and X-rays are good at identifying problems with your shoulder, but arthroscopy allows the surgeon to directly see the problem. Other surgical instruments are introduced to shave away bone spurs that may be found underneath your collarbone or along the joint just about the “ball” of the upper arm. Special devices that use radiofrequency waves or thermal energy also may be used to clean-up or remove tissue. This also helps control bleeding. Various types of anchors also may be inserted into the shoulder that allow your surgeon to reattach and stitch tissue together, such as for a rotator cuff tear.

The procedure itself may vary in length from thirty minutes up to an hour and a half.

A surgical dressing is applied at the end of the procedure and a sling and/or special immobilizer also may be used to protect your shoulder.

Complications from this type of surgery are not that common. Some of the potential risks include infection, nerve and blood vessel injuries, bleeding and blood clots. There are also specific risks associated with anesthesia.

Following shoulder arthroscopy, you surgeon will likely recommend physical therapy to restore your mobility, strengthen the muscles around the joint, and improve your conditioning.