Shoulder Arthroscopy

Shoulder Arthroscopy Overview

Shoulder arthroscopy, or “scoping” can be used to treat a variety of shoulder conditions. These include tendinitis, impingement syndrome, biceps tendon damage, cartilage tears, and certain types of arthritis. Although these conditions cannot always be completely corrected, often significant relief and restoration of function is possible if non-operative treatment is ineffective. A pencil-sized scope and small instruments are placed through puncture incisions, viewing the inside of the joint on a screen and allowing surgical repair. For more minor procedures, a sling is necessary only for a few days and exercise can be started almost immediately. Physiotherapy is sometimes arranged to facilitate rehabilitation. Return to full activities can usually commence within several weeks.  Dr. Klippenstein performs shoulder arthroscopy in Minnedosa for appropriate cases, which can potentially shorten wait times or driving distances for some patients.

Shoulder Arthroscopy Details

Shoulder arthroscopy is performed as a day surgery procedure under general anaesthesia. A pencil-sized scope is passed through a small incision at the back of the shoulder to provide a magnified image of the joint. Additional instruments and devices are introduced through one or two additional incisions to repair or remove damaged tissue. This type of minimally invasive surgery actually affords a better view of the joint and avoids larger tissue-disrupting incisions which facilitates quicker recovery. Shoulder conditions that can be treated arthroscopically include shoulder impingement and tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, biceps tendon problems, certain types of arthritis, frozen shoulder, and loose bodies.

Shoulder impingement and tendonitis can be treated by removing bone spurs and degenerative tissue. Arthritis and injury of the AC joint can be addressed with decompression or stabilization of that joint. Loose bodies and damaged joint surface cartilage can be removed. Frozen shoulder can be improved by arthroscopic releases. Dislocated or torn biceps tendons can be released, which may result in a deformed biceps muscle but usually improves pain and shoulder function.

Adhesive strips are used to close the small incisions, and stitches are not usually required. Long acting freezing is used for prolonged postoperative pain relief. Pain medication is prescribed, and ice is encouraged to control pain and swelling. A sling is worn for variable lengths of time, not usually more than a week for minor cases. Exercises are given to begin soon after surgery, and physiotherapy with be arranged at the first postoperative visit.

The ultimate success of any operation cannot be guaranteed, and some symptoms may persist after surgery. All operations have potential risks, and for shoulder arthroscopy these include anaesthetic complications (very rare), temporary swelling from the surgical irrigation, temporary stiffness (approximately 1 in 20 cases), infection (1 in 200), blood clots (1 in 1000), and nerve or blood vessel injury (extremely rare).