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Canine Arthroscopic Procedures

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Dr. Bauer demonstrates how arthroscopy is used in canine orthopedics

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Video of arthroscopic surgery using shaver technique


Arthroscopy is a surgical technique used to visualize, diagnose and treat intraarticular (inside a joint) problems and the surgeons at Colorado Canine Orthopedics have performed thousands of arthroscopic procedures to treat a variety of canine orthopedic conditions.

The word arthroscopy comes from two Greek words, "arthro" (joint) and "skopein" (to look). The term literally means "to look within the joint." In an arthroscopic procedure, a small nick is made in the patient's skin and a pencil-sized instrument that contains a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures is inserted into the joint. Light is transmitted through fiber optics to the end of the arthroscope and a miniature television camera connected to a monitor, enabling the surgeon to see the interior of the joint through a very small incision rather than an open surgical approach. The camera is attached to a monitor, which allows the surgeon to examine the cartilage and ligaments. The surgeon can determine the extent and type of injury, and then repair or correct the problem, if needed.

Over the past 10 years, technologic advancements in arthroscopic equipment have resulted in a clearer, crisper and brighter picture. Accurate color reproduction and greater depth of field has enhanced the surgeon’s ability to view intra-articular structures accurately. Scopes and cameras have become more compact, more ergonomic and easier to handle. Newer technology has also allowed intraoperative still and videography.

Arthroscopy for Dogs - Colorado Canine OrthopedicsNearly all major canine joints can be visualized using arthroscopy. In most cases arthroscopy is used as a diagnostic tool as well as a treatment modality. The most common uses in canine patients involve juvenile bone diseases and ligament injuries in the stifle and glenohumeral joints. Juvenile bone diseases include osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) of the shoulder, elbow, stifle and tarsocrual joints and elbow dysplasia. Arthroscopy can be used to confirm the diagnosis, remove osteochondral fragments and encourage revascularization of the remaining subchondral defects. Arthroscopy is also used to diagnose and treat ligament and tendon injuries in the glenohumeral joint and cranial cruciate ligament and meniscal tears in the stifle joint.

Arthroscopy is minimally invasive and allows for more thorough as well as magnified inspection of the joint. Diagnoses can be made that would otherwise be missed by the naked eye, open arthrotomy. In fact, arthroscopy is so accurate, expensive diagnostic imaging techniques such as MRI can be avoided in some instances. Once a diagnosis is made many conditions can be treated arthroscopically. By avoiding open surgery, post-operative discomfort is minimized, recovery is significantly quicker and hospitalization time is shorter. While arthroscopy is not inexpensive, quicker recovery, shorter hospitalization time and avoidance of redundant diagnostic imaging techniques may actually reduce overall cost.


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