a type of joint surgery in which a thin tube with a light source (called an
arthroscope) is inserted into the joint through a small incision (cut) in the
skin, allowing the doctor to see the inside of the joint. Instruments are
inserted through other small cuts to work on the joint. Surgery will not cure
rheumatoid arthritis or stop the disease's progress. But it may improve function and provide some pain relief.
What To Expect After Surgery
Arthroscopy usually does not require an
overnight stay in the hospital. After the procedure, the joint should be used
as infrequently as possible for several days. Crutches may be needed if the
foot or knee joint was examined, depending on the extent of the procedure and
the doctor's preference.
Why It Is Done
This procedure is used for treatment
in large joints. Procedures done with arthroscopy include:
Cleansing and removing debris from the joint
Removing any free-floating pieces of bone or
cartilage from the joint.
Smoothing out rough or irregular joint
Limited removal of inflamed tissues (synovectomy) in
This procedure may not be appropriate if joint destruction
How Well It Works
Arthroscopy temporarily relieves
pain and sometimes eases joint movement but does little to slow the progression
of the disease.footnote 1
Risks of arthroscopy include the risks of
surgery and using anesthetic and a slight risk of infection and bleeding within
What To Think About
Arthroscopy does little to change
the disease process. Recurrence of pain and other symptoms is
likely, but arthroscopy may provide temporary relief.
Firestein GS (2010). Rheumatoid arthritis. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 15, chap. 2. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.
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