Seeing the Full Scope and Benefits of Shoulder ArthroscopyFifteen years ago, doctors used a large incision to open the shoulder and repair a torn tendon or muscle. Now they can use an arthroscope to look inside the joint and make repairs without opening the joint.
An arthroscope is both a surgical tool and a tiny TV camera. Doctors like the arthroscope because it allows them to see the joint without a big incision. Patients report they have less pain and a quicker return to normal. Some studies show patients use fewer drugs for pain after all-arthroscopic surgery.
Many studies show good results with arthroscopic surgery for the shoulder. Doctors have gone from using an open incision to arthroscopic-assisted operations and, now, all-arthroscopic repair. This study looked at the result of shoulder tendon repair using the arthroscope alone versus a mini-open operation with the arthroscope to help.
The results of this study show that return of shoulder motion was much faster for the all-arthroscopic group. The doctors think this is the result of less pain, less muscle spasm, and easier rehabilitation. Patients in the arthroscopic-assisted group were more likely to have a condition called fibrous ankylosis. In such cases, the shoulder doesn't get the full motion back.
The authors report that an all-arthroscopic operation takes extra training and a higher skill level on the part of the surgeon. When a doctor has this training, the all-arthroscopic method is a better choice. Patients get full motion with less pain and faster recovery.
Erik L. Severud, MD, et al. All-Arthroscopic Versus Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair: A Long-Term Retrospective Outcome Comparison. In Arthroscopy. March 2003. Vol. 19. No. 3. Pp. 234-238.
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