Arthroscopy is a medical procedure that uses a special piece of equipment to visualize and diagnose joint damage or problems. The arthroscope is a hand-held tool with a pencil-sized rod on one end. This end of the tool has a small lens and light attached to one end. The light allows the surgeon to not only the illuminate and magnify specific structures found inside the knee joint, but also to perform precise procedures to repair damage to joint bones, cartilage or surrounding tissues. Arthroscopic procedures are common on the knees, elbows, shoulder and hip joints.
What are the Benefits of Arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that requires a very small incision. Through the arthroscope, the doctor is able to view the interior joint structures, including synovial capsules, cartilage, tendon, ligament and bone structures in order to diagnose fractures, ligament or tendon tears, and bone damage.
Arthroscopic Knee Washout Procedure Details
An arthroscopic washout procedure is often performed in an outpatient surgical center but may also occur in a hospital's operating room. Before the procedure, the knee is anesthetized with local anesthetic.
A small incision is made (keyhole surgery) at the knee joint so the surgeon may insert the arthroscope, a long, narrow tube-like instrument with a viewing eyepiece on one end, into the joint. This allows the surgeon to view the interior aspect of the joint without large incisions and open wounds. This approach reduces damage to knee musculature and surrounding tissues, reduces healing time, and reduces risk of infection.
The actual 'washout' portion of the procedure involves flushing the interior of the knee joint with sterile fluid not only to make it easier for the surgeon to inspect any damage to the knee joint, but also in repairing such injury or tearing he may see. The sterile solution also serves to flush away very fine bits of bone or cartilage that have broken or rubbed off the bones of the knee and cause friction between the bones and other surfaces in the knee joint.
Following the procedure, you're allowed to go home or back to your hotel, although it is recommended that someone else drive you. Most patients experience minimal pain, swelling or stiffness following the procedure. You may be given a pair of crutches to walk with, depending on the severity of your injury and the procedure.
How Much Does Arthroscopy Cost?
The cost of arthroscopic knee procedures depend on the severity of the condition being treated, viewed and repaired. For example, a knee washout may cost an average of $1,000 to $2,000, although clinic fees, surgeon fees, and anesthesia may add to such costs. Travelers visiting countries like India may save between 50% and 75% on the same arthroscopic procedures performed in the U.S.
Who performs Arthroscopic Procedures?
Orthopedic doctors and surgeons can perform arthroscopic procedures following adequate training and certification in the technique. An orthopedic surgeon generally completes up to 14 years of education and must pass board certified oral and written examinations by the Board of Orthopedic Surgery in whatever country they are practicing.
An orthopedic surgeon can specialize in certain body areas, such as the hands, feet, shoulders, knee, hip or spinal areas. Some specialize in fields such as sports or trauma medicine, while others specialize in the treatment of arthritis. No matter where you live, check the credentials of any physician or surgeon through a State, Provincial or National Board of Orthopedic Surgeons to find information about any particular physician, surgeon or specialist in this field.
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