Arthroscopy


Heather K. Streppa, DVM, MS
Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Nashville Veterinary Specialists


Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which examination, and often treatment, of an interior of a joint is performed using an arthroscope. A very small incision can be made in the patient’s skin allowing introduction of a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint. The image is magnified up to 20x.

Diagnosing joint injuries and disease begins with a thorough history, examination and X-rays. Additional tests such as an MRI, CT scan or ultrasound examination may be needed as well. With the arthroscope, a final diagnosis can be made which may be more accurate than with an arthrotomy, plus arthroscopy can allow concurrent treatment.  The advantages of arthroscopy over arthrotomy include minimal post-operative morbidity, enhanced visualization of the joint due to magnification and constant lavage of the joint.  Specialized arthroscopic instruments allow removal of abnormal cartilage and debridement of abnormal subchondral bone.  Ligaments and other soft tissues can be probed and transected, excised or ablated.

Specific joints and conditions that are more frequently examined and treated with arthroscopy include:

  • Shoulder: OCD (Osteochondrosis / Osteochondtritis Dissecans), inflammation or tears of the bicipital tendon, rotator cuff injuries
  • Stifle: Cranial cruciate ligament tears with instability, meniscal tears, OCD
  • Elbow: OCD, UAP (Ununited Aconeal Process) and FMCP (Fragmented Medial Coronoid Process) associated with elbow dysplasia
  • Hip: Tearing of the ligaments or joint capsule, cartilage damage
  • Acute and Chronic Synovitis – in stifle, shoulder, elbow or hip

Standard post-surgical care for most conditions includes six weeks of activity restriction, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate supplementation. Overall prognosis will depend on the underlying disease process.

Nashville Veterinary Specialists offers arthroscopy as a treatment and diagnostic modality for your patients.  If you have a question as to whether an arthroscopic procedure may be of benefit, please contact me or any member of the NVS Surgery Service.