In an arthroscopic examination, an orthopedic surgeon will make a small incision in the patient’s skin and then insert pencil-sized instruments that contains optical fibers and lenses, to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint. Light is transmitted through fiber optics to the end of the arthroscope that is inserted into the joint.
The arthroscope is connected to a video camera and the interior of the joint is seen on a television monitor. By doing this, the surgeon is able to see the interior of the joint through this very small incision rather than a large incision that would be necessary for open surgery. Because scoping requires only small incisions, it’s labeled a minimally invasive procedure.
The television camera attached to the arthroscope displays the image of the joint on a television screen, allowing the surgeon to look throughout the joint. For example, if the surgeon was looking at a patient’s knee, now the surgeon can see the cartilage, ligaments, and under the kneecap. The surgeon can then determine the type of injury and can repair or correct the problem, if necessary.