Not long ago, serious shoulder injuries required major surgery through large incisions. Today, advanced arthroscopic technologies in the hands of skilled surgeons like trusted Chicago orthopedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Romeo have changed the patient experience from one involving a hospital stay and prolonged recovery to an outpatient procedure that requires just a few small incisions.
Diagnostic Aid to Surgical Tool
The arthroscope is a slender tube tipped with a tiny camera and a strong light. When inserted through the skin and into the shoulder, it allows a surgeon to see exactly what has happened to the interior structures of the shoulder or other areas of the body. It provides real-time video that a surgeon uses to guide other small instruments inserted via small incisions, such as miniature scissors. This makes arthroscopy an efficient way for a surgeon to repair or remove damaged cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones.
When arthroscopy began to be used by orthopedic surgeons several decades ago, it was primarily a diagnostic tool. Today it is commonly used for reconstructive procedures as well, including rotator cuff repair, Bankart repair, capsular shift and the Latarjet procedure.
It is a popular surgical option in the treatment of shoulder instability and dislocation, fractures, subacromial impingement, acromioclavicular osteoarthritis, rotator cuff tears, frozen shoulder, chronic tendonitis, SLAP (superior labrum anterior and posterior) lesions and other soft tissue trauma.
Interestingly, labral tears, such as SLAP tears, are an example of how arthroscopy has revolutionized the field of orthopedic medicine. Soon after its advent, the clear, 360-degree views provided by the arthroscope allowed surgeons to see anatomical changes caused by shoulder injuries in much greater detail than ever before. New types of shoulder injuries were soon discovered and classified, including a variety of labral tears, whether they occurred in the front, back, or top of the shoulder joint, which is where the SLAP tear is found.
In shoulder procedures, arthroscopy is especially effective for:
• Repair of the labrum
• Repair of damaged ligaments
• Repair of torn rotator cuff tendons
• Treatment of the biceps tendon
• Treatment of severe shoulder stiffness
• Treatment for mild/moderate arthritis
• Decompression of nerves around the shoulder
• Removal of loose bone from a joint
• Removal of the inflamed lining of joints
Major improvements continue to be made to the technology and the surgical techniques each year, increasing the efficiency, comfort and convenience of arthroscopic procedures. For most arthroscopic operations, you can expect to be home within hours of the surgery.
Although use of the arthroscope generally shortens recovery time when compared with open surgery, your joint will nonetheless require some time for healing and rehabilitation. With most shoulder surgeries, home exercises and a program of physical therapy will be important to a successful recovery. Early exercise can help establish and preserve your range of motion, preventing a joint from becoming stiff as it heals.
To learn more about arthroscopic shoulder procedures, please contact the Chicago offices of experienced orthopedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Romeo to schedule a personal consultation, at your convenience.