Sometimes elbow joints might get injured during sports, or get affected by inflammation or other disease conditions leading to severe chronic pain in the elbow joints. Some of these injuries or damage can be treated by conservative methods but some of them needs to be treated surgically.Basically surgeries associated with elbow can be performed either as open surgery or as minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. Elbow arthroscopy is gaining preference over the traditional open surgery.Elbow arthroscopy is used in the treatment of conditions such as the loose bodies and bone spurs in the elbow joint, osteochondritis dissecans and tennis elbow. Though arthroscopic treatment of tennis elbow are only performed by certain doctors.
Loose bodies are small parts of bone or cartilage broken off from the elbow joint . The cause for loose body formation are the activities or occupations involving repetitive lifting such as weightlifting.These loose bodies cause pain and locking of the elbow which eventually cause more damage to the joint and the surrounding cartilages. Therefore these loose bodies are to be removed surgically. This can be acomplished arthroscopically.
Arthritis leads to the formation of bone spurs in the elbow joint.these bone spurs restrict the mobility of the elbow joint along with chronic pain. Therefore bone spurs needs to be removed, and this can be done by arthroscopic surgery of the elbow.
OCD affects the capitellum, a part of humerus which is on the outer half of the elbow.It is believed to be caused due to recurrent microtrauma to the capitellum.This recurrent microtrauma restricts the blood supply to the bone which then impairs healing.As a result fragmentation of portions of cartilage occur, that is loose bodies are formed. This usually occurs in adolescents. OCD can be treated arthroscopically.
Elbow arthroscopy is an minimally invasive surgery which utilizes a tiny camera called the arthroscope which enables the visualisation of the internal regions ,as it is connected to a monitor or screen.Elbow arthroscopy is usually performed under general or regional anesthesia. During this procedure, the surgeon makes different portals carefully at different regions of the elbow joint through which the elbow joint is accessed.care is taken not to damage or to minimize the damage that might be caused to nerves,blood vessels or tendons surrounding the elbow joint.through these portals , camera and other surgical instruments are inserted.then the Loose pieces of bone and bone spurs removed from the joint using the instruments such as burrs that are inserted through the portals.once the procedure is completed , the incisions are stitched together and dressed.
The operation usually takes 1-1/2 hours.hospitalization is generally not required for this operation.Most patients return to their usually activity within two weeks with the help of physiotherapy. However activities involving lifting heavy things are prohibited until full recovery. Full recovery from loose body removal takes around 2-3 weeks and bone spur removal takes little longer period of 8-12 weeks.
Some of the advantages of the elbow arthroscopy are the faster recovery, short or no hospitalization, reduction of pain in the elbow joints , small scars of operation and lower infection rates.