Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique performed on a joint. During the procedure, the surgeon inserts small cameras to evaluate and treat a multitude of joint diseases. The cameras, which generally range in size from 1.9 to 2.7 millimeters, provide images inside joints.

In small animal veterinary medicine, arthroscopy is most commonly performed in canine shoulders, elbows and knee joints. However, in some cases, surgeons opt to use the arthroscopic method in the hip joint as well as in the wrist (carpus) and ankle (tarsus) joints if the patient is large enough.

Common Diseases Treated With Arthroscopy

Veterinarians can use arthroscopy to evaluate and treat canine joints, most commonly:

  • Shoulder
    • Biceps tendon disease is characterized by inflammation of the tendon connected to the bicep muscle. It is a common cause of forelimb lameness.
    • Osteochondritis Dissecans Lesions (OCD) is a painful joint disease that affects shoulders, elbows and knees. The pain is caused by inflammation and lesions on the smooth cartilage in the dog’s joints. Often, small pieces of the cartilage break off and float free in the joint.
    • Ligament injuries (repair and replace procedures)
  • Elbow
    • OCD Lesions
    • Elbow dysplasia is a condition that involves multiple developmental abnormalities in the joint. These include 1) fragmented coronoid process; 2) disease of the cartilage surfaces of the joint; 3) ununited anconeal process and 4) joint incongruity.
  • Knee (Stifle)
  • Hip, Wrist (Carpus) and Ankle (Hock)
    • Arthroscopic procedure may be used to evaluate joint arthritis, surfaces and ligament injuries in the joints.
    • OCD Lesions
    • Small fractures or fragments of bone commonly ail these joints.

Benefits of Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy, which is used primarily in dogs, has multiple benefits and uses in veterinary medicine, including:

  • It magnifies the joint during evaluation.
  • It allows the veterinarian to see multiple surfaces of the joint that may be limited by one surgical approach.
  • The surgery creates a very small, minimally invasive approach to repair the joint, preventing a larger traditional surgical open incision.
  • In some procedures, arthroscopy has an improved outcome compared to an open surgical approach.

Arthroscopic Surgery At CARE

While arthroscopy has multiple benefits and uses in veterinary medicine, it also requires significant, advanced training and equipment. At CARE, we not only have the equipment but also three board-certified surgeons who are highly trained. We are therefore capable of performing arthroscopic surgery. If you believe your dog has a joint disease that could be treated in this way, please speak with your family vet about referring you to one of CARE’s surgery specialists.

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