Arthroscopy of the elbow is a surgical procedure in which a highly trained orthopaedic surgeon makes several tiny incisions around the elbow and places an arthroscope (camera) inside the joint.
This type of surgery is performed for a number of conditions including chronic tennis elbow, removal of loose bodies, treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and removal of fibrosis (scarring).
This type of procedure is performed in an outpatient setting. General anesthesia or regional anesthesia may be used.
There are several different portal options (incision sites) based on the patient’s condition and anticipated surgical procedure. In addition to the arthroscope, working instruments are placed through the small incisions. This allows for easy removal of free-floating loose pieces of cartilage or bone. Bony osteophytes (spurs) can be removed with a burr, osteotomes or currettes. Other cartilage lesions can be managed with the use of small biters and shavers.
Post-operatively a bulky dressing is applied. Physical therapy is usually prescribed to restore range of motion and return to functional status. Full recovery varies and is based on the nature of the underlying disease process and actual procedure(s) performed.
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.