What is elbow arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is the use of small fiber optic cameras to visualize inside joints. Through arthroscopy Dr. Kavi Sachar can often avoid opening a joint with large incisions and make recovery from surgery faster and easier. Arthroscopy allows for visualization in areas that are often hard to see with the naked eye. Additional arthroscopic portals allow for repair of injured structures.
What is elbow arthroscopy used for?
Arthroscopy has many uses. It can be used in almost any joint with cameras sizes ranging from 1.2-4 mm in diameter. Arthroscopy can be used to diagnosis conditions. Imaging modalities such as X-ray, CT scan and MRI are important tools that help Dr. Kavi Sachar diagnosis conditions. However, some conditions are best visualized directly and arthroscopy helps accomplish this. Arthroscopy can be used to remove bone fragments; repair ligament injures and treat fractures.
In the elbow, several conditions can be treated with arthroscopy. Loose bodies in the elbow can be removed that can cause locking or catching. Arthritis in the elbow is a common condition that limits motion and causes pain. Arthroscopy can be used to remove bone spurs and to shave areas of arthritis. This will often result in pain relief and increased motion. Elbow contracture release can be performed with arthroscopy to increase motion. Elbow ligament tears, such as a medial collateral ligament tear can be diagnosed and partially treated with arthroscopy.
Here is a list of some conditions that can be treated with elbow arthroscopy
- Loose bodies
- Elbow contracture
- Medial collateral ligament tear (Tommy John)
- Lateral Epicondylitis
- Elbow synovitis
How is elbow arthroscopy performed?
Arthroscopy is performed through small incisions with multiple instruments to complete the procedure. Patients may receive either a regional or general anesthetic to allow for proper positioning. Traction is placed on the limb to distract the joint and allow for optimal visualization. Multiple portals are made so every area of the joint can be visualized. These are closed with small sutures but are often small enough that no sutures are needed.
In the elbow, patients lay on their side and gravity is used to open the joint and allow for optimal visualization. This requires both a regional and general anesthetic to keep the patient comfortable.
Recovering from elbow arthroscopy
Recovery from arthroscopy will depend on the condition treated. In general, small incisions are made and either a soft dressing or splint is applied. Therapy is usually started early in recovery to regain motion, for wound care and to rebuild strength. Some conditions allow for function and returns to normal use quickly while others may require longer rehabilitation.
In elbow arthroscopy for conditions such as arthritis or loose body removal, therapy is started in the first few days. Patients work on range of motion and edema control. Most patients resume normal activities within 4-8 weeks. Ligament repairs and reconstructions may require more time for rehabilitation to allow for full ligament healing.
Schedule a consultation
Board-certified and fellowship-trained hand surgeon Dr. Kavi Sachar is widely regarded as one the nation’s leading experts on elbow pain. Dr. Sachar has three office locations in Vail, Aspen, and Frisco, Colorado. If you or a family member suffer from elbow pain, contact Sachar today. Dr. Sachar is part of the world-renowned Steadman Clinic. Dr. Sachar and his team are here to help.
At a Glance
Dr. Kavi Sachar
- Specializing in Hand, Wrist, & Elbow Surgery
- Board Certified Orthopedic & Hand Surgeon
- Consultant to the US Ski & Snowboard Team & Colorado Avalanche
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