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Shoulder Arthroscopy

What is shoulder arthroscopy?

The arthroscope is a small fiber optic instrument attached to a camera, 3-5 millimeters in size, that can be placed into the shoulder joint. The athroscope is inserted through a small incisions about the shoulder. This procedure evaluates the entire shoulder joint, including the ligaments, the biceps tendon, the rotator cuff, the joint lining and the cartilage surface.

This procedure allows a variety of surgeries to be performed, such as:

  • A complete assessment of the joint, known as diagnostic arthroscopy
  • Repair of torn/damaged cartilage/ligaments of the shoulder in cases of shoulder instability or dislocations
  • Repair of a torn/damaged biceps tendon
  • Evaluation and repair of the rotator cuff
  • Removal of the end of the clavicle in cases of arthritis or pain of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint

What type of anesthesia is performed for shoulder arthroscopy?

Usually shoulder arthroscopy can be performed under regional anesthesia, during which the anesthesiologist will inject numbing medicine around the nerves of the shoulder to provide pain relief. General anesthesia is sometimes needed

What are the possible complications of shoulder arthroscopy?

Risks following surgery are quite rare but include the following

  • Stiffness/continued pain of the shoulder
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Anesthetic problems

How do I prepare for shoulder arthroscopy?

Staff at the Maimonides Bone and Joint Center will set up an appointment for the surgery and assist in the authorization by the insurance company. Patients will need to complete necessary paperwork to initiate the entire process. Presurgical testing, such as blood tests or urinalysis, may be necessary. Patients over the age of 50 may need an EKG and an X-ray prior to surgery. The night before the surgery, no food or drink may be consumed. Most patients are able to leave the hospital on the same day as the surgical procedure.

What happens on the day of the surgery?

The patient will be brought to the preoperative holding area, and the correct shoulder will be confirmed. After the operation, he or she will be taken to the recovery room to be monitored. When stable and able to get up, the patient will be reunited with family. Bringing reading material (e.g. magazines, books, newspapers) will help to pass the time in recuperation.

What are the instructions for after the surgery?

  • You may resume a regular diet, but you should start with liquids, and slowly progress to solid foods.
  • Pain medication will be prescribed.
  • The bandage on the shoulder can be removed after 3 days.
  • After the dressing is removed (2-3 days), showering is permitted, but a bath cannot be taken by the patient until 2-3 weeks post-surgery.
  • The provided sling may be removed for grooming and physical therapy. When instructed, the sling must be kept on until the arm and shoulder area are healed.
  • The patient will receive an ice machine that will continually surround the shoulder with cold water. If not, then ice packs or a bag of frozen peas may be applied for a 30-minute duration over the course of several days. Do not use heat.
  • Physical therapy begins approximately 2-3 weeks post-surgery.
  • The patient can return to school/work 3-5 days without using the affected arm.

What is the purpose of rehabilitation?

  • Rehabilitation allows the tissue to heal.
  • It is important to help regain motion and strength.
  • Rehabilitation allows for the return to athletic activities. Generally, one may resume engagement in sports 3-6 months after surgery, depending on the procedure.

If there are any additional questions, please contact our office, at 718-283-7400.

Please send us your Shoulder Arthroscopy questions or any questions to our friendly staff via our online Contact Form. You may also contact us at or visit our office at 6010 Bay Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11204.

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