Elbow Arthroscopy

Jun 13, 2023 | Hand/Wrist/Elbow, Procedures, Video

What is Elbow Arthroscopy?

Elbow arthroscopy, also referred to as keyhole or minimally invasive surgery, is performed through tiny incisions to evaluate and treat several elbow conditions.an illustration showing an elbow arthroscopy procedure

Elbow Anatomy

The elbow is a complex hinge joint formed by the articulation of three bones – humerus, radius and ulna. The upper arm bone or humerus connects the shoulder to the elbow forming the upper portion of the hinge joint. The lower arm consists of two bones, the radius and the ulna. These bones connect the wrist to the elbow forming the lower portion of the hinge joint.

The three joints of the elbow are:

  • Ulnohumeral joint, the junction between the ulna and humerus
  • Radiohumeral joint, the junction between the radius and humerus
  • Proximal radioulnar joint, the junction between the radius and ulna

The elbow is held in place with the support of various soft tissues including cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and bursae.

Indications of Elbow Arthroscopy

Elbow arthroscopy is usually recommended for the following reasons:

  • Debridement of loose bodies such as bone chips or torn cartilage tissue
  • Removal of scar tissue
  • Removal of bone spurs: These are extra bony growths caused by injury or arthritis that damage the ends of bones causing pain and limited mobility.

Arthroscopy is also used for the:

  • Treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and a condition called osteochondritis dissecans where loose fragments of cartilage and bone are in the joint space.

Evaluation and Diagnosis

Your surgeon will review your medical history and perform a complete physical examination. Diagnostic studies may also be ordered such as X-rays, MRI or CT scan to assist in diagnosis.

Elbow Arthroscopy Procedure

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which an arthroscope, a small soft flexible tube with a light and video camera at the end, is inserted into a joint to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions.

Elbow arthroscopy is commonly performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. The patient is placed in a lateral or prone position which allows the surgeon to easily adjust the arthroscope and have a clear view of the inside of the elbow.

Several tiny incisions are made to insert the arthroscope and small surgical instruments into the joint. To enhance the clarity of the elbow structures through the arthroscope, your surgeon will fill the elbow joint with a sterile liquid.

The liquid flows through the arthroscope to maintain clarity and to restrict any bleeding. The camera attached to the arthroscope displays the internal structures of the elbow on the monitor and helps your surgeon to evaluate the joint and direct the surgical instruments to fix the problem.

At the end of the procedure, the surgical incisions are closed by sutures, and a soft sterile dressing is applied. Your surgeon will place a cast or a splint to restrict the movement of the elbow.

Advantages of Elbow Arthroscopy

The advantages of arthroscopy compared to traditional open elbow surgery include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Minimal soft tissue trauma
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Faster healing time
  • Lower infection rate

Postoperative care for Elbow Arthroscopy

The post-surgical instructions include:

  • Make sure to get adequate rest.
  • Raise your elbow on pillows above the level of the heart to help reduce swelling.
  • Keep the incision area clean and dry.
  • A compressive stocking may be applied from the armpit to the hand once the dressing is removed to decrease pain and increase range of motion.
  • Your doctor will prescribe pain medications to keep you comfortable.
  • Physical therapy will be ordered to restore normal elbow strength.
  • Eating a healthy diet and not smoking will promote healing.

Complications of Elbow Arthroscopy

The possible complications following elbow arthroscopy include infection, bleeding, and damage to nerves or blood vessels.

Service Areas

Related Topics

PRP Therapy

PRP Therapy

What is PRP Therapy?Our blood consists of a liquid component known as plasma. It also consists of three main solid components which include red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets. Platelets play an important role in forming blood clots. They...

read more
Ankle Fractures

Ankle Fractures

What is Normal Ankle Joint Anatomy? The ankle joint is composed of three bones: the tibia, fibula and talus, which are articulated together. The ends of the fibula and tibia (lower leg bones) form the inner and outer malleolus, which are the bony protrusions of the...

read more
Wrist Fractures

Wrist Fractures

The wrist is comprised of two bones in the forearm, the radius and ulna, and eight tiny carpal bones in the palm. The bones meet to form multiple large and small joints. A wrist fracture refers to a break in one or more of these bones. Types of wrist fracture include:...

read more
Elbow Fractures

Elbow Fractures

What are Elbow Fractures? Three bones, the humerus, radius and ulna, make up the elbow joint. Elbow fractures may occur from trauma, resulting from various reasons; a fall on an outstretched arm, a direct blow to the elbow, or an abnormal twist to the joint beyond its...

read more
Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow

What is Tennis Elbow? Tennis elbow is the common name used for the elbow condition called lateral epicondylitis. It is an overuse injury that causes inflammation of the tendons that attach to the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle). It is...

read more

Treatment of the following Areas

Our individualized approach and treatment plans get our patients back to health as quickly as possible and remain the hallmark of our practice.

Contact Us