The Purpose of Ankle Arthroscopy

Image Credit: Cleveland Clinic 

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Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

Arthroscopy is a medical procedure that enables orthopaedic surgeons to view inside the joints. Utilising a tool called an arthroscope, small incisions are placed on the joint that is to be investigated, and the procedure is conducted. The arthroscope is equipped with a lens, and a lighting mechanism, that enables the doctor to view the site. 

Why utilise arthroscopy? 

Adequate treatment of orthopaedic conditions, requires the utilisation of the appropriate diagnostic methods. With the root cause of patient ailments identified, the orthopaedic surgeon can then create the treatment plan that will enable the optimum recovery path. Within the joint, there is a complex network of bones, cartilage, ligaments, muscles and tendons. The joint often becomes damaged either via injuries or health conditions, and having a clear view of the extent of damage conducted will enable the right decisions to be made. 

Arthroscopy is now part of the diagnosis procedure. Your orthopaedic surgeon will conduct a physical examination, and then conduct imaging tests in order to get a clear view of the internal condition of the joint. Popular diagnostic tools include a CT scan, MRI or X-rays. To get a closer view of the joint condition, arthroscopy can be used. 

Via arthroscopy, real-time images of the joint are provided to the orthopaedic surgeon. The surgeon can see clearly any inflammation, tearing of the soft tissue, or bone fragments that may have dislodged. 

Treatment of Orthopaedic Conditions 

With a clear view of the internal joint condition, it is also possible to treat joint conditions with arthroscopy. The procedure is known as arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is often used to treat conditions such as inflammation of the joint lining and damage to the ligament. If there is any damage to the joint, arthroscopic surgery can be used to reconstruct the joint site. Attachments to the arthroscope can conduct mechanisms such as cutting, grinding and grasping the relevant parts of the joint. 

Arthroscopic Surgery as a Minimally Invasive Procedure 

Arthroscopic diagnostic tests, and arthroscopic surgery are minimally invasive procedures. Because of the small incisions that are made during the procedures, many patients benefit from a faster recovery time, less pain and from the cosmetic aspect less scarring.  

What happens during an arthroscopic procedure? 

When an arthroscopic procedure is to be conducted, there are a few preparatory activities that you will have to undergo. Your orthopaedic team will give you a preliminary summary of how the procedure will go. On the day of treatment, you will go into the surgery and change into a hospital gown. You will then be anaesthetized, prior to the actual procedure. The severity of the procedure will determine whether you will be administered with local, regional or general anaesthesia. 

Your orthopaedic team will then determine the best alignment for your procedure. Patients are often placed either on their back, or on their side. The joint will be stabilised, and then the procedure will be conducted. In some instances, a sterile fluid may be placed into the joint in order to improve the surgeon’s visibility. 

The initial incision that is made in the joint is for the arthroscope, and supporting incisions for surgical tools are created as necessary. Once the procedure is completed, the incisions are closed with small stitches or surgical tape. The surgical procedure is often a fast process, and patients are sent to recovery once the procedure is completed. Patients are often able to go home after a few hours. 

Postoperative Care

As a fast procedure, patients are able to recover at home after their arthroscopic procedure. Your orthopaedic surgeon will often prescribe a procedure that includes medications, rest, support (sling or crutches) and physical therapy treatments that restore joint mobility. 

With an appropriate postoperative plan, patients can usually resume light work after a few days, and fully resume activities after a few weeks. 

Article References: 

[1] https://www.oaidocs.com/2022/11/04/the-purpose-of-arthroscopy/

[2] Mayo Clinic: Arthroscopy 

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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