Elbow arthroscopy is a medical procedure which is used to examine, diagnose and treat problems which are affecting the elbow. The doctor will use a miniature camera to see inside the patient's elbow and that will be inserted through making small cuts. Elbow arthroscopy is also sometimes referred to as keyhole surgery.
What are the advantages of having an elbow arthroscopy?
When the elbow is damaged it will somehow like to prevent movement and become stiff. The aim of the elbow arthroscopy is to investigate and confirm what actually the problem is, and in some cases, treat it. Patients with elbow arthritis who undergo elbow arthroscopy will see significant improvement in their symptoms and functioning.
Also, because the surgery involves making smaller cuts in the soft tissue, there will be less pain, swelling and stiffness than conventional surgery, with a faster recovery.
Are there any alternatives present to elbow arthroscopy surgery?
Problems inside a joint can often be diagnosed using special tests such as CT and MRI scans. However, the patient may then need an elbow arthroscopy to treat the problem.
What does an elbow arthroscopy involve?
The elbow arthroscopy operation is performed under a regional or general anesthesia. Elbow Arthroscopy usually takes about half an hour.
The doctor will usually make about two to four small cuts around the joint. They will place a small telescope through one of the cuts, so they can examine the joint. They will place surgical instruments through the other cuts if they need to treat any problems with the joint.
What are the complications related to Elbow Arthroscopy?
Elbow arthroscopy is generally a safe and routine procedure, with benefits outweighing the disadvantages for most patients. Any invasive surgery has risks such as pain, bleeding, infection in the surgical wound or unsightly scarring.
Specific complications of Elbow Arthroscopy are:
- Bleeding into the joint
- Infection in the joint
- Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the arm and hand (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)
- Damage to nerves
- Damage to the radial nerve
How fast does the recover from Elbow Arthroscopy take place?
Recovery time can vary from patient to patient, but one should be able to resume to normal activities after a few weeks following elbow arthroscopy. The patient should also be able to go home on the same day of the surgery.
After the arthroscopy, the elbow will be placed into an elbow split. This will allow the patient to move his hand but also protect the elbow. Keeping the arm elevated will reduce the risk of excessive swelling and pain.
Some of the physiotherapy exercises may be suggested, depending on the overall condition of the patient's elbow.
Cost of Elbow Arthroscopy
Most medical insurance policies cover elbow arthroscopy costs, but please check with the insurer first. If the patient is paying for his treatment, then the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when he books the operation.