Arthroscopic Surgery - The Evolution of the Revolution

By Dr. Michael Gruber

Arthroscopy was a revolutionary procedure when it came onto the seen in the 1970's and1980's. Relatively quickly, orthopaedic surgeons became arthroscopists, able to correct injuries through minimal incisions that previously required extensive incisions and months of recovery with less than desired outcomes. With these improved techniques came a fundamental shift in the approach to injury and recovery, ushering in the modern and continuously evolving approach to orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine.

What exactly is arthroscopic surgery? At a basic level it is looking into a joint; “arthro” joint and “scopy” to look. That's where the pioneers of this technique started, with a look into the joint through a small telescope. That was the revolution that continues to evolve today with new instrumentation, new techniques and new applications allowing predictably successful outcomes through minimally invasive surgery. That evolution is in practice every day at the Summit Surgery Center, Piedmont Newnan Hospital and Piedmont Fayette Hospital as the orthopaedic surgeons of Georgia Bone and Joint apply the latest arthroscopic techniques to the care of our patients.

Treatment of knee conditions remains the most common application for arthroscopy. Treatment of small meniscal tears and minor articular cartilage damage are routine procedures that allow immediate ambulation and return to work in days. In young patients, meniscal tears are often repaired rather than resected avoiding arthritis later in life. Major ligamentous injuries such as Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears are treated with arthroscopic techniques, often allowing surgery as an outpatient and markedly decreasing the time to return to sport. Treatment of articular cartilage lesions such as microfracture (inducing cartilage repair through bone marrow stimulation) and cartilage transplantation in various forms has become routine. Details of these surgeries are available online through the Patient Education Library on Georgia Bone and Joint's website

The minimally invasive philosophy of arthroscopy has influenced other areas of orthopaedics and related disciplines. Examples of this approach can be found in the areas of joint replacement and spinal surgery where Georgia Bone and Joint surgeons now commonly perform these procedures through small incisions with significant improvement in recovery. Related techniques such as regional anesthetics have evolved as well to allow more effective pain relief; facilitating outpatient surgery and making the surgical experience much more pleasant. Of course treatment is not always surgical. In fact most musculoskeletal problems can be handled effectively with precise nonoperative techniques. An invaluable aid to such nonoperative care, as well as post surgical recovery, is the outstanding physical therapy provided at the Summit in Newnan and at our new Shakerag office in Peachtree City.

In short, treatment provided through the physicians of Georgia Bone and Joint and the other members of our orthopedic team reflects the history of the most revolutionary concept in orthopaedics: arthroscopic surgery. In our practice we apply continuous, evolutionary improvement in musculoskeletal care using proven minimally invasive surgical techniques, when necessary, to allow accelerated return to function for the athlete and nonathlete alike.

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