Elbow Arthroscopy

Elbow Arthroscopy

Elbow arthroscopy is performed through tiny incisions to evaluate and treat several elbow conditions.

The Elbow is a complex hinge joint formed by the articulation of three bones - humerus, radius and ulna. The humerus is the only upper arm bone, whereas the radius and ulna are both in the forearm.

The elbow actually consists of three joints as follows:

  • Ulnohumeral joint, the junction between the ulna and humerus
  • Radiohumeral joint (or radiocapitellar joint), the junction between the radius and humerus
  • Proximal radioulnar joint, the junction between the radius and ulna

Various soft tissue structures contribute to elbow stability and function including:

  • Cartilage
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels and
  • Bursae

Indications of elbow arthroscopy:

Elbow arthroscopy is usually recommended for the following reasons:

  • Debridement of loose bodies such as bone chips or torn cartilage tissue
  • Removal of scar tissue
  • Removal of bone spurs: These are extra bony growths caused by injury or arthritis that damage the ends of bones causing pain and limited mobility.

Arthroscopy is also used for:

  • Treatment of osteoarthritis and a condition called osteochondritis dissecans where loose fragments of cartilage and bone are in the joint space.

Evaluation and Diagnosis:

Dr. Driscoll will review your medical history and perform a complete physical examination. Diagnostic studies may also be ordered such as X-rays, MRI or CT scan to assist in diagnosis.

Elbow Arthroscopy

Surgical Procedure

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which an arthroscope, a small soft flexible tube with a light and video camera at the end, is inserted into a joint to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions.

Elbow arthroscopy is commonly performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. Several tiny incisions are made to insert the arthroscope and small surgical instruments into the joint. To enhance the clarity of the elbow structures through the arthroscope, your surgeon will fill the elbow joint with a sterile liquid.

Several tiny incisions are made to insert the arthroscope and small surgical instruments into the joint. To enhance the clarity of the elbow structures through the arthroscope, your surgeon will fill the elbow joint with a sterile liquid.

The liquid flows through the arthroscope to maintain clarity and to restrict any bleeding. The camera attached to the arthroscope displays the internal structures of the elbow on the monitor and helps Dr. Driscoll to evaluate the joint and direct the surgical instruments to fix the problem.

At the end of the procedure, the surgical incisions are closed by sutures, and a soft sterile dressing or splint is applied.

The advantages of arthroscopy compared to traditional open elbow surgery include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Minimal soft tissue trauma
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Faster healing time
  • Lower infection rate

Post-operative care:

The post-surgical instructions include:

  • Make sure to get adequate rest.
  • Raise your elbow on pillows above the level of the heart to help reduce swelling.
  • Keep the incision area clean and dry.
  • Your doctor will prescribe pain medications to keep you comfortable.
  • Physical therapy may be ordered to restore normal elbow strength and range of motion.
  • Eating a healthy diet and not smoking will promote healing.

Complications:

The possible complications following elbow arthroscopy include infection, bleeding, and damage to nerves or blood vessels.