Shoulder arthroscopy is surgery that uses a tiny camera called an arthroscope to examine or repair the tissues inside or around your shoulder joint. The arthroscope is inserted through a small incision (cut) in your skin.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that cover your shoulder joint. These muscles and tendons hold your arm in your ball and socket shoulder joint, and they help you move your shoulder in different directions. The tendons in the rotator cuff can tear when they are overused or injured.
Most people receive general anesthesia before this surgery. This means you will be unconscious and unable to feel pain. Or, you may have regional anesthesia. Your arm and shoulder area will be numbed so that you do not feel any pain in this area. If you receive regional anesthesia, you will also be given medicine to make you very sleepy during the operation.
First, your surgeon will examine your shoulder with the arthroscope. Your surgeon will:
Your surgeon may do one or more of these procedures during your surgery:
At the end of the surgery using the arthroscope, your incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with a dressing (bandage). Most surgeons take pictures from the video monitor during the procedure to show you what they found and what repairs they made.
Your surgeon may need to do open surgery if there is a lot of damage. Open surgery means you will have a large incision so that the surgeon can get directly to your bones and tissues. Open surgery is a more complicated surgery.
Arthroscopy may be recommended for these shoulder problems:
Risks for any anesthesia are:
The risks for any surgery are:
Risks of shoulder arthroscopy are:
Always tell your health care provider what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the 2 weeks before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
Recovery can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months. You will probably have to wear a sling for the first week. If you had a lot of repair done, you may have to wear the sling longer.
You may take medicine to control your pain.
When you can return to work or play sports will depend on what your surgery involved. It can range from 1 week to several months.
For many procedures, especially if a repair is performed, physical therapy may help you regain motion and strength in your shoulder. The length of therapy will depend on the repair that was done.
Arthroscopy is an alternative to "open" surgery that completely exposes the shoulder joint. Arthroscopy results in less pain and stiffness, fewer complications, shorter (if any) hospital stays, and faster recovery sometimes.
If you had repair done, your body still needs time to heal after arthroscopic surgery, just as you would need time to recover from open surgery. Because of this, your recovery time may still be long.
Surgery to fix a cartilage tear is usually done to make the shoulder more stable. Many people recover fully, and their shoulder stays stable. But some people may still have shoulder instability after arthroscopic repair.
Using arthroscopy for rotator cuff repairs or tendinitis usually relieves the pain, but you may not regain all of your strength.
SLAP repair; Acromioplasty; Bankart; Shoulder repair; Shoulder surgery
Elkousy HA, Edwards TB. Shoulder: Development of skills for shoulder surgery. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 17, section Q.
Phillips BB. Recurrent dislocations. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 45.
Phillips BB. Arthroscopy of the upper extremity. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 49.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; and Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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