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Shoulder Arthroscopy

Expert Orange County Shoulder Surgeons

What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical option for patients suffering from shoulder conditions such as labral tears and rotator cuff tears. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is a procedure used to examine, diagnose, and treat a number of issues within the shoulder joint and in the area surrounding the rotator cuff.

During shoulder arthroscopy, a small camera called an arthroscope is inserted into the shoulder joint via a small incision so your shoulder surgeon can visualize the area by looking at a video monitor in the operating room as they guide tiny surgical instruments. Arthroscopic surgery differs from “open” surgery in that only small incisions are necessary to access the shoulder, rather than larger incisions needed for standard, open surgery. Patients heal faster and have less post-operative pain because only small incisions are used in this minimally invasive arthroscopic technique.

Why Do I Need Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Injury, overuse, and wear and tear cause many shoulder problems that damage the rotator cuff tendons, labrum, articular cartilage, and other soft tissues surrounding the joint.

Common shoulder conditions treated with arthroscopic shoulder surgery include:

What Happens During Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is typically performed in an outpatient surgery center. Prior to surgery, you will discuss anesthesia options with your anesthesiologist and shoulder surgeon. Most patients receive general anesthesia and regional nerve blocks to numb the arm and shoulder. During shoulder arthroscopy, your orthopedic shoulder surgeon will insert the arthroscope into the shoulder via a small incision, the size of a buttonhole. Once in place, the doctor can inspect your shoulder joint and its tissues, including the cartilage, bones, tendons, and ligaments. A sterile fluid is injected into the shoulder joint to inflate the joint, making it easier for your doctor to see all of the structures of your shoulder through the arthroscope. A real-time video taken by the arthroscope is projected on the video screen showing your surgeon the inside of your shoulder and any damaged tissues.

Once your problem area is clearly identified, other small surgical instruments are inserted through separate incisions. Tiny surgical instruments can perform various tasks like shaving, cutting, grasping, suture passing, and knot tying. In many cases, special devices are used to anchor stitches into the bone. Your surgeon may close your incisions with stitches or steri-strips, which will be covered with a soft bandage.

After Surgery

You will stay in the recovery room for 1 to 2 hours before being discharged to go home. Nurses will monitor you and provide pain medication as needed. You will need to arrange to have someone drive you home and stay with you for at least the first night.

Recovery from shoulder arthroscopy is often faster than recovery from traditional open surgery, but it may still take weeks to months for a full recovery depending on the severity of your condition and how extensive your surgery was. Ice will help relieve pain and swelling. Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine if needed and physical therapy to accelerate the healing process and restore motion and strength in your shoulder. For patients who need only minor repairs, your strength may return after a few sessions of physical therapy, and you’ll be able to return to work or school within a few days of your procedure. Always make sure to check with your doctor prior to resuming physical activities.

Trust the Shoulder Surgeons at Newport Orthopedic Institute

Our board-certified, fellowship-trained Orange County shoulder surgeons are skilled at performing arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Get to the bottom of your shoulder pain today, contact NOI for a consultation.

Do you need arthroscopic shoulder surgery?
Call Newport Orthopedic Institute at (949) 722-7038.

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