Arizona Institute for Bone & Joint Disorders, Comprehensive orthopedic care, Serving Phoenix and Glendale, Arizona
Arizona Institute for Bone & Joint Disorders, Comprehensive orthopedic care
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Arizona Institute for Bone & Joint Disorders

Frequently Asked Questions

Total Joint Replacement FAQs | Arthroscopic Surgery FAQs | Hand & Upper Extremity FAQs

Frequently asked questions, arthroscopic surgeryArthroscopic Surgery FAQs

Arthro (joint), Scopy (to look) enables the surgeon to view the joint through small incisions or portals. The arthroscope is used to diagnose joint problems and to perform surgical procedures. Because surgery is performed through small incisions, there is less trauma to the tissue, minimal scarring and faster healing.

Surgery is performed in an operating room under either general or spinal anesthesia. Several small incisions are made and a scope is inserted in the joint area. The arthroscope contains magnifying lenses and glass fibers that relay the image to an eye piece or monitor. Once the diagnosis is completed the damaged portion of the joint is corrected or repaired.

Most arthroscopies can be performed on an out-patient basis; for more extensive procedures, a hospital or recovery center stay of 1 to 2 days may be required. This state-of-the-art technique is now performed on ankle, shoulder, wrist, elbow and knee joints.

Initial Evaluation
Before performing arthroscopy, a complete in-office evaluation will be conducted. This evaluation consists of medical history, a physical exam and diagnostic tests. In office test will include x-rays. If the physician feels that he needs additional testing he may arrange for you to have an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) or an arthrogram (x-ray using a dye) performed at an outside facility. The doctor will discuss the evaluation with you and answer any questions you may have regarding surgical and possible non-surgical options. As part of the pre-surgery evaluation, the doctor may suggest that you begin an exercise program to strengthen your muscles prior to surgery.

During your preoperative evaluation be sure to inform the medical staff of any allergies to medications, soaps, skin tapes, problems with anesthesia or any other health conditions. You may need to have a preoperative clearance physical or lab tests prior to surgery depending on your general health and age.

Scheduling Surgery
Arthroscopic surgery will be performed either on an outpatient basis or in a hospital, depending on the procedure and the surgeon. The physician's assistant will call you to inform you when and where to report for your surgery and what preparations you will need to make.

All arrangements for your upcoming surgery will be made by our surgery scheduler. This will include hospital reservations, operating room time, anesthesia and assistant surgeon, if needed. You will be contacted by phone when these arrangements have been completed.

Questions regarding scheduling arrangements should be directed to the surgery scheduler at (602) 667-7912.

Preoperative Instructions
You will need to have a friend or relative drive you to the surgery location. If you will be staying overnight you should pack a bag including a toothbrush, pajamas and any personal items. Also bring loose fitting clothing to accommodate bulky dressings.

Approximately one hour prior to surgery you will be taken to the preoperative holding area. You will be asked to put on a surgical gown and have your temperature taken and the operative area shaved and cleansed. An IV will be started so that medication can be administered as needed. Most surgical procedures last from 1 to 3 hours.

The following guidelines should be followed to successfully prepare for your surgery:
  • Discontinue taking aspirin and medications containing aspirin at least 2 weeks before surgery. This includes Bufferin, Pepto-Bismol and Anacin.
  • Discontinue taking Advil, Ibuprofen, Anaprox or any other anti-inflammatories.
  • Refrain from smoking as soon as you schedule your surgery to facilitate proper healing.
  • Do not eat , drink, smoke or chew gum after midnight the evening before a morning surgery. If you must take morning medication for a health condition, take medication with one tablespoon of water well before 6:00 a.m.
  • For an afternoon surgery (1:30 p.m. or later), you may have a small amount of clear liquids before 6:00 a.m. such as one cup of tea, a dish of clear jello or one glass of water.
  • If you have a fever or any abrasions, scratches, cuts or bumps on the operative site, please call the office immediately for instructions.
  • If you wear glasses, contact lenses or jewelry, you will be required to remove them before surgery.
  • Please do not wear nail polish or make-up as this could be irritating to the eyes while you are under anesthesia.

Post Operative Instructions
You will be taken to the recovery room immediately following surgery. If you are an outpatient, you will be discharged within 1 to 2 hours and can be driven home by a friend or relative. You will need to have an adult stay with you for the first 24 hours following outpatient surgery. If your surgery is more extensive, you will either be transported to a surgical recovery center or admitted to a hospital.

After surgery you may experience some discomfort and be given a mild pain medication. Depending on the nature of your surgery, you may receive some or all of the following post-operative aids to help speed your recovery:
  • Compression bandage or TED hose covering the surgical site.
  • Ice machine, which will surround the area with self-contained, cold water to help reduce swelling.
  • Hemovac drain to draw blood away from the joint area.
  • Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine to help maintain range of motion and speed recovery time.
  • Knee brace or shoulder sling.

After surgery, it is necessary for you to regain muscle strength as soon as possible to help stabilize the affected joint through a rehabilitation program. An exercise and rehabilitation program will be coordinated between the physician, the physician's assistant and yourself.

At the time your surgery is discussed, you will be given a set of post-operative instructions. There will be several exercises that you will need to perform prior to starting formal Physical therapy. You will be seen 7-10 days after your surgery by either the physician or the physicians' assistant. A formal physical therapy program may be prescribed for you and this program would normally begin two weeks after surgery for the knee and four to six weeks for shoulder surgery. You may choose a physical therapist of your choice. You should contact your insurance company to determine which therapists are covered by your insurance company and if physical therapy charges are paid under your plan.

Prolonged walking is not a knee rehabilitation exercise and should be avoided immediately following surgery because it may cause swelling of the joint.

The Following Guidelines Should be Utilized To Facilitate Proper Recovery:
  • Keep operative areas, including dressing clean and dry. Twenty four hours after your surgery, all surgical dressings should be removed, the surgical site cleaned and band aids placed over the incisions.
  • If you have had knee surgery, you should re-wrap the knee with an Ace bandage. Start from below the knee and wrap upward. Be sure the Ace is not to tight. Elevate the leg to aid in circulation and to reduce swelling.
  • Use ice for 72 hours as needed for pain and to help reduce swelling.
  • Elevate leg on one or two pillows, whichever is more comfortable for you. Exercise toes to help circulation.
  • Low grade temperatures are quite common after surgery. Please call our office if your temperature exceeds 101 or if you begin to have persistent pain in your calf.
  • Bear weight as tolerated unless otherwise specified. You do not need to be confined to bed unless instructed.
  • Keep knee covered when outdoors to avoid getting sunburn.
  • If you have an artificial prosthetic ligament (i.e. Gore-Tex graft), you may need to take antibiotics before any dental work or other surgery is performed. You may also need antibiotics if you become ill with a fever following surgery. Please contact the office as soon as possible if you have a fever.

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