Arthroscopy is the visualization of the inside of a joint using a fiberoptic scope (arthroscope) introduced into the joint. A skin incision approximately 5 mm long is necessary to introduce the arthroscope into the joint. Although the incisions are small, the entire limb must be shaved and scrubbed for surgery because the entire limb must be exposed for intra-operative manipulation. Once the arthroscope is properly inserted into the joint, virtually the entire interior of the joint can be inspected. In most instances, one is able to inspect a joint far better arthroscopically than with a standard open approach. This is of enormous benefit in establishing a diagnosis when the findings of a physical examination and radiographs are inconclusive. Depending upon the pathology identified, some conditions can be addressed arthroscopically by introducing specially designed instruments through additional small holes (portals) into the joint. Multiple small portals into a joint are much less traumatic and painful than a single open approach. Therefore, if at all possible, when there is intra-articular (inside the joint) pathology, we will try to address it arthroscopically.
Below examples for findings upon arthroscopy:
(Courtesy: Dr. Brian Beale, DVM, DACVS, Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists)