A diagnostic arthroscopy is a keyhole operation that is performed under a general anaesthetic. It is used to directly look at the structures within the shoulder joint in order to establish a diagnosis and plan further treatment.
Once under anaesthetic your shoulder will be moved through a range of positions to check for any signs of laxity or stiffness.
Your surgeon will then make a 1cm incision at the back of your shoulder and place a narrow metal tube (an arthroscope) attached to a camera into your shoulder, to look at the bones and soft tissues of the shoulder joint. Further small incisions may be made to inspect the joint from the front and to pass a probe into the joint to check that structures are firmly attached.
The incisions will be closed using dissolvable sutures and dressings placed over the wounds. The dressings can be removed within 10-12 days. They are splash proof rather than fully water-proof and therefore, try to avoid getting the dressing too wet before it is removed.
You will be transferred to the recovery room where you will be closely monitored as the effects of the general anaesthetic wears off. Once it is safe to do so, you will be transferred back to the ward where you will need to be observed for a further couple of hours.
Once the anaesthetic has fully worn off you will be encouraged to get up and mobilise. This will help prevent the risk of any post-operative complications.
There are no movement restrictions after the diagnostic arthroscopy. Initially you may feel some discomfort in the shoulder, which should resolve in a couple of days.
- Sickness/nausea, heart problems, breathing problems and nervous system problems - relating to the anaesthetic
- Infection – All possible precautions are taken to avoid infection during your operation. Your skin is thoroughly cleaned with a disinfectant solution and all clinical staff wear masks, sterile gowns and gloves throughout the procedure. If a superficial skin infection develops post- operatively it is treated with oral antibiotics
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) – A DVT is a blood clot in the deep veins of the calf or thigh. To reduce the risk of developing a DVT and to help with your circulation you will be given stockings and will be fitted with special inflatable pads to wear around your legs whilst in bed. These inflate automatically and provide pressure at regular intervals, thereby increasing blood circulation in your legs. You may require blood thinning medication which will be decided by your surgeon depending on your individual risk factors. The physiotherapist and nursing staff will show you how to exercise your legs and ensure that you start to move about quickly after your operation. If a clot develops and part of it breaks away, it can travel to the lungs where it is called a Pulmonary Embolus (PE). A PE is potentially life threatening and so everything is done to prevent a DVT from developing. We ask you to help avoid this complication by wearing your stockings at all times while you are in hospital except when you are bathing.
- • Stiffness – There may be some stiffness in your shoulder after the surgery which will reduce as you begin to use and move your arm.
- • Nerve/blood vessel damage around the shoulder- The risk of this is less than 1%. If it happens, we will investigate it carefully and take appropriate action to restore function.
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