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Shoulder Arthroscopy

The shoulder is your body’s most flexible joint. It lets the arm move in almost any direction. But this flexibility has a price — it makes the joint prone to injury. If you have a shoulder problem, a surgical procedure called arthroscopy can help.

Two healthcare providers wearing surgical gowns, masks, and hats doing surgery with arthroscope in shoulder. They are looking at video monitor.
A camera in the arthroscope allows your surgeon to view your shoulder joint on a monitor.

Your Orthopaedic Evaluation

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the history of your shoulder problem. He or she will examine your shoulder and may give you diagnostic tests, such as an X-ray or MRI. These help your doctor find the cause of your shoulder problem.

Arthroscopy: Looking Inside Your Joint

Arthroscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to see and work inside your shoulder joint. Your doctor makes small incision in your shoulder and inserts a long, thin, lighted instrument, called an arthroscope. During surgery, the arthroscope sends live video images from inside your joint to a screen that your doctor views. Using these images, your doctor can diagnose and treat your shoulder problem. Because arthroscopy uses much smaller incisions than open surgery, recovery is often shorter and less painful.

Risks and Possible Complications of Shoulder Arthroscopy

  • Stiffness or ongoing pain in your shoulder

  • Bleeding or blood clots

  • Infection

  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels

You may still need open surgery after having arthroscopy.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 7/21/2013
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