arthroskopisiArthroscopy is a procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to inspect, diagnose, and repair problems inside a joint.

The word arthroscopy comes from two Greek words, "arthro" (joint) and "skopein" (to look). The term literally means "to look within the joint."

During shoulder arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.

Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery. This results in less pain for patients, and shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favourite activities.

Shoulder arthroscopy has been performed since the 1970s. It has made diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from surgery easier and faster than was once thought possible. Improvements to shoulder arthroscopy occur every year as new instruments and techniques are developed.

Arthroscopy may be recommended for these shoulder problems

  • A torn or damaged cartilage ring (labrum) or ligaments
  • Shoulder instability, in which the shoulder joint is loose and slides around too much or becomes dislocated (slips out of the ball and socket joint)
  • A torn or damaged biceps tendon
  • A torn rotator cuff
  • A bone spur or inflammation around the rotator cuff
  • Inflammation or damaged lining of the joint, often caused by an illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Arthritis of the end of the clavicle (collarbone)
  • Loose tissue that needs to be removed
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome, to make more room for the shoulder to move around

Rotator cuff repair

  • The edges of the tendon are brought together. The tendon is attached to the bone with sutures.
  • Small rivets (called suture anchors) are often used to help attach the tendon to the bone.
  • The anchors can be made of metal or plastic. They do not need to be removed after surgery.

Surgery for impingement syndrome

  • Damaged or inflamed tissue is cleaned out in the area above the shoulder joint.
  • A ligament called the coracoacromial ligament may be cut.
  • The underside of a bone called the acromion may be shaved. A bony growth (spur) on the underside of the acromion often causes impingement syndrome. The spur can cause inflammation and pain in your shoulder.

Surgery for shoulder instability

  • If you have a torn labrum, the surgeon will repair it. The labrum is the cartilage that lines the rim of the shoulder joint.
  • Ligaments that attach to this area will also be repaired.
  • The Bankart lesion is a tear on the labrum in the lower part of the shoulder joint.
  • A SLAP lesion involves the labrum and the ligament on the top part of the shoulder joint.