#treatment - Shoulder

Shoulder Arthroscopy

  • Shoulder arthroscopy is keyhole surgery of the shoulder
  • It can be used to assess and treat a number of different conditions

What is shoulder arthroscopy ?

Shoulder arthroscopy is keyhole surgery of the shoulder performed through one or more small incisions (cuts) around the shoulder. The shoulder is filled with pressurised fluid, to help give a good view of the interior of the joint. A 3.5mm diameter telescope is inserted into the shoulder. An digital camera attached to the end allows a high quality image to be transmitted to a video monitor which is viewed by the operating surgeon. Special probes and other tools can be inserted through the second portal, enabling minimally invasive interventional surgery to be performed.

What conditions can be treated by shoulder arthroscopy ?

Shoulder arthroscopy can be used to treat a variety of both traumatic and degenerative conditions both within and around the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. The use of a telescope allows improved visualisation of disorders within the joint that may not be recognised with traditional ‘open’ techniques’.

Probing the glenoid labrum

Probing the glenoid labrum

In addition to allowing direct assessment of the joint structures it allows for the removal of loose bodies within the shoulder joint. Repairs can be performed to damaged structures in conditions such as shoulder instability, rotator cuff tears and damage to the glenoid labrum ( aring of cartilage within the joint which contributes to joint stability). By introducing the arthroscope and instruments into the subacromial space it is possible to remove spurs that can contribute to shoulder symptoms.

The underside of the supraspinatus tendon (rotator cuff)

The underside of the supraspinatus tendon (rotator cuff)

In most cases shoulder arthroscopy is performed under a general anaesthetic. Although modern anaesthetic techniques reduce risks to a minimum there are complications associated with this component of the procedure. Surgical risks include a small risk of infection and damage to surrounding nerves and blood vessels. Some scarring is inevitable and its degree will vary from individual to individual. If there is poor mobilisation of the shoulder following surgery stiffness or a frozen shoulder can occur.

What are the risks of shoulder arthroscopy ?

In most cases shoulder arthroscopy is performed under a general anaesthetic. Although modern anaesthetic techniques reduce risks to a minimum there are complications associated with this component of the procedure. Surgical risks include a small risk of infection and damage to surrounding nerves and blood vessels. Some scarring is inevitable and its degree will vary from individual to individual. If there is poor mobilisation of the shoulder following surgery stiffness or a frozen shoulder can occur.