What is elbow arthroscopy?
Elbow arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used for the inspection, diagnosis and treatment of certain elbow conditions. An arthroscope is a thin, flexible tube with a small light and video camera at the end.
Elbow arthroscopy is a valuable tool that allows Dr. Hackett an excellent view inside the joint to evaluate all the structures and to perform surgery to relieve painful symptoms caused by injury and damage to bones, cartilage and soft tissues without opening the joint.
When will elbow arthroscopy be recommended?
Dr. Hackett may recommend arthroscopy when you have elbow pain and discomfort that persists after a trial of nonsurgical management including rest, ice, activity modification, over the counter pain medications, injections to improve inflammation, and physical therapy.
Common conditions treated with elbow arthroscopy include:
- Tennis elbow – a degenerative disorder of the muscles and tendons over the bony protrusions of the elbow
- Select elbow fractures
- Repair of torn ligaments
- Removal/debridement of loose bodies (loose pieces of bone and cartilage that float in the joint space and can cause the joint to lock up)
- Release scar tissue to improve your range of motion, and reduce stiffness
- Remove bone spurs caused by osteoarthritis or injury to improve pain and mobility
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Osteochondritis – damage to a part of the upper arm bone from repetitive motion.
What are the benefits and risks of elbow arthroscopy?
The benefits of this minimally invasive procedure include less pain and stiffness, reduced damage to surrounding healthy tissues, smaller incisions and less bleeding which means easier rehabilitation and quicker recovery than is found with open surgical procedures.
The primary risk is potential for damage to the nerves and blood vessels in the joint. Dr. Hackett will discuss the potential risks with you before scheduling surgery. In the experienced hands of Dr. Tom Hackett this procedure is safe and successful with a low risk of complications.
What is the surgical procedure?
Elbow arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure accomplished under general and regional anesthesia. The arthroscope is inserted into the joint through a tiny incision. The tiny video camera sends images of the inside of the joint to a television monitor so Dr. Hackett can inspect and evaluate the joint and the damage.
Several additional tiny incisions are made to insert tiny instruments into the joint to repair or remove damaged structures. When the procedure is over, each tiny incision is closed with a stitch or skin tape. A dressing is applied, and a cast or splint is placed to protect and immobilize the joint while healing takes place.
How long does it take to recover?
Depending on the extent of surgery, it can take a few weeks for pain to improve. You will receive complete instructions for recovery at home including icing and elevation for several days after surgery. Pain medications will be prescribed for the first week. Early range of motion exercises can reduce swelling and prevent stiffness. Physical therapy is essential to regain strength and range of motion. Restoration of daily activities will depend on the extent of the surgery and the type of problem treated.
Dr. Tom Hackett is an expert in complex knee, shoulder and elbow injuries, and a specialist in the arthroscopic treatment of sports injuries. When you have elbow pain and dysfunction contact Dr. Tom Hackett to schedule a consultation. He will conduct a physical examination, review your medical history, and order imaging studies. Based on this information he will render a diagnosis and recommend the best treatment options for your condition.