Arthroscopy (ahr-THROS-skuh-pee) is a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems. During arthroscopy, a surgeon inserts a narrow tube containing a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision — about the size of a buttonhole. The view inside your joint is transmitted to a video monitor.

Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without having to make a large incision. Surgeons can even repair some types of joint damage during arthroscopy, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted through additional small incisions.

Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Doctors use arthroscopy to help diagnose and treat a variety of joint conditions, most commonly those affecting the:

  • Knee
  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Ankle
  • Hip
  • Wrist

Diagnostic procedures

Doctors often turn to arthroscopy if X-rays and other imaging studies have left some diagnostic questions unanswered.

Surgical procedures

Conditions treated with arthroscopy include:

  • Bone spurs or loose bone fragments
  • Damaged or torn cartilage
  • Inflamed joint linings
  • Joint infections
  • Torn ligaments and tendons
  • Scarring or tissue overgrowth within joints

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