Unlike traditional foot surgery, arthroscopic is more advanced and less invasive. If you are a candidate for arthroscopic surgery, it is important to know all you can prior to your operation date.
How Arthroscopic Surgery Is Different
Arthroscopic foot surgery uses a fiber-optic camera and miniature tools to repair foot damage. As opposed to traditional foot surgery which usually involves large incisions and significant recovery time, arthroscopic surgery is minimally invasive and always done on an outpatient basis.
This type of procedure can be used to treat a wide range of foot and ankle injuries as well as chronic conditions. The word “arthroscopy” comes from two Greek root words: arthro (“joint”) and skopein (“to look”). Thus, this advanced technology simply means to take a look into a joint to treat or diagnose.
If you are scheduled for an arthroscopic procedure, you can expect it to be relatively simple. First, regional anesthesia is used to numb the area, which adds another layer of safety to the surgery as traditional foot surgery requires general anesthesia. You might also receive a sedative to relax you during the procedure. Next, the surgeon will insert an arthroscope via a very small incision. It is connected to a video monitor that will allow the doctor to easily view joint or tissue damage, as well as the ability to inspect bones, tendons, and ligaments. Then, repairs can be made and the patient can go home and easily recover.
When Arthroscopic Surgery Is Used
There are many different foot conditions that can benefit from arthroscopic foot surgery. These include:
- Ankle fractures
- Ankle instability
- Inflammation of the front or back of the ankle (known as impingement)
- Arthrofibrosis (internal scar tissue)
- Joint infection
- Loose cartilage or bone
- Osteochondral defects or damaged cartilage
- Synovitis (soft tissue inflammation)
- Generalized ankle pain
The Benefits of Arthroscopic Foot Surgery
There are distinct benefits to having a minimally invasive, technologically advanced surgery like arthroscopy. Some of these include:
- A more accurate diagnosis. Joint injuries have always been a bit challenging, with diagnosis including a review of medical history, a physical examination, and X-rays. But with an arthroscope, a more accurate diagnosis can be made due to its exact precision. In fact, some doctors use it as an augment to other procedures to help determine exactly what was going on.
- Quicker recovery. Arthroscopic surgery is easier on the body due to its very small incision. Recovery is usually quite simple, with the incision healing within a week and daily activities able to be resumed within a few days. Joint function will return later, usually within several weeks. Since the incision is so small, fewer stitches are needed. Some patients don’t even need to worry about wound care—just simply keeping a bandage on the area and waiting for it to heal. Best of all, scars are minimal and oftentimes barely even visible.
- Lower risk. Due to its minimal invasiveness, arthroscopic surgery comes with fewer risks. There is a much lower risk for infection related to surgery, as well as less risk of getting sick from being inside of the hospital since the procedure is outpatient. Your joints are also at less risk due to the fact that the incision is not fully opened during surgery.
- Surgical precision. The use of a camera for the procedure allows for more precision and accuracy. Surgeons are much less likely to make an error, and surgery is highly effective at bringing relief to the issue—if not managing to cure it completely.
How to Know When It’s Time for Arthroscopic Surgery
If you are dealing with chronic foot and ankle pain, it is a good idea to go see a specialist. A podiatrist can quickly determine if this sort of procedure would be of benefit. Going directly to a podiatrist can resolve your pain more quickly than going through your general practitioner, as they have a higher level of knowledge when it comes to foot issues.
Are You Looking for a Foot Care Specialist in Austin, TX?
If you are looking for foot care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.