Keyhole Surgery of the Joints

An orthopaedic surgeon with the help of an arthroscopic instrument probes, diagnoses and treats problems with joints. It is a procedure that is generally used on the shoulder, elbow, wrists, knees and ankle joints. When a patient has joint problems such as swelling or stiffness an arthroscopy may be recommended by the Orthopaedic surgeon, in the event the imaging tests have not revealed the crux of the swelling or stiffness.

Apart from permitting a surgeon to check inside a joint for probable cause of the problem, an arthroscopy is also used to treat a range of conditions that are the reason for pain. These conditions / problems are:


  • To repair any damaged cartilage present in the joints
  • To remove fragmented bones or cartilage debris
  • To treat shoulder contracture, also known as frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis – a condition where there is pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint.

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery and it provides the orthopaedic surgeon with an excellent view of the joint with the problematic condition. This procedure is normally performed through two very small puncture holes, where one hole is used to pass the arthroscopic instrument through and the other hole is used for the camera, which is used to visualize the joint. It is also a very straightforward and safe procedure and is usually performed under general anaesthesia.

Arthroscopy is also used to examine joints that are very painful due to a bad injury. The examination is done while the patient is under anaesthesia and it allows the surgeon to thoroughly examine the joint for obvious and subtle issues like joint movement and ligament tears.

Post-surgery, the patient is stabilized in the recovery ward, before being taken to their room and generally discharged that day. A bandage will be applied at the site of the surgery and this can be removed the following day. The punctured wounds will be stitched with paper strips of a single stitch which will be removed ten days after the procedure. Two weeks after the surgery, using either still pictures or an operative video taken during the surgery, the surgeon will discuss the intra-operative findings, after the patient’s joint has been examined.