Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive technique that allows orthopedic surgeons to assess – and in some cases, treat – a range of conditions affecting the shoulder joint.
During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon makes small incisions or portals in the affected joint, and then inserts a tiny camera and fiber optics to light the interior space. Pictures obtained with the camera are then projected onto a screen in the operating suite.
Whenever possible, arthroscopic techniques are preferred to traditional, open shoulder surgery, which involves larger incisions and longer recovery times.
While many people think of the shoulder as a single joint, it is actually made up of two joints: the acromioclavicular joint, where the acromion of the shoulder blade and the collarbone (clavicle) meet, and the glenohumeral joint, where the head of the humerus (the upper bone in the arm) meets the glenoid, the cup-like portion of the scapula.
There is also potential space (the subacromial space) between the acromion and rotator cuff tendon. Injuries to the shoulder may occur in either joint or in the soft tissues that support and stabilize it.
Conditions in the shoulder that may be diagnosed and treated with the help of arthroscopy include biceps tendon and rotator cuff injuries, shoulder impingement, labral tears, frozen shoulder, arthritis and other problems.
Shoulder arthroscopy may be used for smaller fractures to aid in repair, such as tuberosity fractures and anterior glenoid fractures. Shoulder infections may be debrided and washed out via shoulder arthroscopy.
View this animation to learn how shoulder conditions may be diagnosed using arthroscopy.
Shoulder arthroscopy is typically ambulatory, which you go home the same day of the procedure.
Arthroscopic shoulder procedures may be performed under either regional anesthesia or general anesthesia, depending on the case. Regional nerve blocks are associated with fewer complications. Arthroscopic shoulder surgeries at HSS are most frequently performed using regional anesthesia and mild sedation. General anesthesia is usually not necessary.
Learn more about shoulder arthroscopy from the content below.
Shoulder arthroscopy and other minimally invasive surgeries often result in less pain, minimal scarring and rapid recovery. But not all hospitals achieve the same results. Some are more reliable than others. With the help of the HSS Hospital Reliability Scorecard, you can make sure you're asking the critical questions to find the hospital that's right for you. Understanding the data points below will help you make the best decision for your care.
Learn more about conditions that may be treated using arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
Get a deeper dive on various arthroscopic shoulder surgeries.