What Is Arthroscopy?
As briefly discussed above, there are several advantages to having arthroscopic surgery versus open surgery. It is these advantages that have popularized this type of surgery all over the world. Currently, most surgeries are performed arthroscopically, if possible. However, some types of surgeries, such as total joint replacement surgeries, can only currently be performed as an open procedure.
Some of the primary benefits of arthroscopic surgery are less risk for significant blood loss, less risk for infection, and less time needed for healing. As compared with open surgery, patients who undergo arthroscopic surgery can expect to have a shorter recovery. With open surgery, the joint needs to be fully exposed for the surgeon to visualize it. This can lead to more blood loss, as the tissues are cut and retracted. This can also expose those tissues and the joint to airborne infections or other bacteria. WIth arthroscopy, the 3 small holes decrease the likelihood for the introduction of infectious bacteria to the joint and for overall blood loss.
Another advantage with arthroscopy is less pain and less healing time. During open surgery, the cutting of multiple layers of soft tissues and the retraction of these tissues back to expose the joint all increase the likelihood for pain after surgery. During arthroscopy, there is some risk for pain due to the actual surgery that is performed within the joint or body part, but it is less likely that there will be significant pain in the soft tissues surrounding the joint. The reason for this is that they are less likely to be included in the surgical area. The only soft tissues that are interrupted during arthroscopic surgery are those tissues that need to be cut to allow the arthroscope and surgical tools to pass through. This decreases the surgical area significantly, which then decreases the time needed for healing and the pain felt by the patient.