Elbow Arthroscopy


An elbow arthroscopy is a procedure in which an arthroscope, an instrument with a light source and a small camera, is inserted into the elbow joint through a small incision. The procedure is used to diagnose and sometimes treat conditions affecting the elbow joint. It is typically performed on an outpatient basis.

What is it?

When a patient is suffering from elbow pain that persists even after nonsurgical methods have been implemented, an elbow arthroscopy may be performed to diagnose or treat the condition. Painful conditions in elbows can result from injury or overuse. The resulting damage to the joint may require surgery to repair it. An arthroscope, an instrument with a light source and a small camera, is inserted into the elbow joint through a small incision. The camera allows the surgeon to observe the extent of the damage internally, diagnose the condition, and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

What should I do to prepare?

Before an elbow arthroscopy, a patient should meet with his or her doctor and discuss current medications, allergies, and past medical history. Patients are instructed to stop eating or drinking before midnight the day before surgery and to stop taking blood thinning medications and aspirin in advance of the procedure.

What happens during the process?

General anesthesia, or when a patient is put completely to sleep using drugs, will likely be used during this procedure as well as antibiotics to prevent infections. During the procedure, the patient is completely sedated and positioned so that the surgeon has a full view of the elbow. The surgeon will inject fluid into the elbow, which expands the joint and clarifies the arthroscope’s view of the joint. After the issue is diagnosed, the surgeon may continue to use the arthroscope and current incision site to introduce other surgical tools to repair the problem.

What are the risks and potential complications?

Elbow arthroscopy comes with associated risks that include but are not limited to:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage


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