Arthroscopy of
the Shoulder

Shoulder arthroscopy

What is an arthroscopy of the shoulder?

Arthroscopy of the shoulder is keyhole surgery, so it is carried out through a very small incision near your shoulder and a tiny camera is inserted into your shoulder joint to allow your orthopaedic surgeon to see inside.

Shoulder arthroscopy is often used for shoulder injuries, overuse, arthritis and some other health conditions.

It can confirm a diagnosis suggested by your physical health and previous diagnostic tests as well as investigate pain where there is no apparent cause or if you have a painful condition that has not responded to non-surgical treatment.

Common arthroscopic shoulder treatments include:

Shoulder stabilisation – repair and tightening of your shoulder ligaments to prevent dislocation.
Shoulder impingement decompression – also known as sub-acromial decompression or acromioplasty. Inflamed soft tissues (bursa and ligaments) and bone spurs are removed to take the pressure off your rotator cuff tendons.
Rotator cuff tendon repair – repair of rotator cuff tears caused by injury or wear and tear. May be performed at the same time as shoulder decompression.
Frozen shoulder treatment - release of the tight structures within your shoulder, known as shoulder arthroscopic release.
Shoulder debridement - removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage. 
Cartilage repair – caused by wear and tear arthritis.

What are the benefits of an arthroscopy of the shoulder?

A benefit of shoulder arthroscopy is that it can be used to confirm your shoulder problem and often treat it as the same time.

Tiny equipment is used in shoulder arthroscopy that require small and minor cuts to your skin. It has many benefits over traditional open surgery including:

Faster healing time.
Less post-surgery pain.
Less infection risks. 
Patients usually go home the same day.
Quicker recovery and return to normal activities.

What does the operation of an arthroscopy of the shoulder involve?

Arthroscopy of the shoulder is normally performed by an orthopaedic surgeon under a general anaesthetic. It can take up to an hour depending upon the amount of work required to your shoulder joint.

Your shoulder surgeon will make small cuts in the skin around your shoulder joint and insert the arthroscope, a tiny camera to see inside your shoulder joint.

The camera displays pictures on a television monitor, and your surgeon uses these images to explore your shoulder joint and to guide miniature surgical instruments to repair or remove damaged tissue that is causing your shoulder pain. They will finally close and dress your cuts.

Your shoulder surgeon will discuss the procedure in detail with you and answer any questions you may have, beforehand.

What complications can happen after an arthroscopy of the shoulder surgery?

As shoulder arthroscopy is an operation it carries the chance of general complications of surgery such as: an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, pain, wound infection, excessive bleeding or developing a blood clot. 

Arthroscopy is generally a safe and routine procedure. However, complications may occur and those specific to shoulder arthroscopy include:

Accidental damage to the inside of your shoulder joint and surrounding nerves or blood vessels.
Shoulder joint infection.
Excessive bleeding into your joint.
Failure of the operation to work and you may need to have it again. 
Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of your arm and hand (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome).

Shoulder arthroscopy cost

If you decide to pay for your treatment, Ramsay offer an all-inclusive Total Care package, where a single one-off payment at a pre-agreed price, delivering direct access to all the treatment you need for complete reassurance. You can also spread the cost of your treatment with finance options available.

An Arthroscopy of the shoulder may be covered by your medical insurance policy. We advise you to check directly with your insurance provider and get written confirmation before commencing treatment. 

How soon will I recover after an arthroscopy of the shoulder?

You can usually go home the same day of an arthroscopy of the shoulder. One of our experienced physiotherapists will give you advice and exercise suggestions that will help speed up your recovery, before you leave.

It usually takes up to three months to get back to normal activities following shoulder arthroscopy. Your recovery time will depend on: if you have treatment and if so what treatment is performed, the severity of your shoulder pain and, your fitness. You should always follow your surgeon’s post-surgery advice.

Most people regain full movement of their shoulder after a shoulder arthroscopy.

Shoulder arthroscopy with Ramsay Health Care

Shoulder arthroscopy at Ramsay Health Care is easily accessed at a hospital local to you. The procedure is regularly performed by our highly experienced and qualified consultant orthopaedic surgeons with a special interest in shoulders. Our skilled physiotherapists offer all the support you need to ensure a speedy recovery following your shoulder arthroscopy.

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