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What is elbow arthroscopy?

Elbow arthroscopy is minimally invasive surgery that diagnoses or treats many elbow problems. Common problems infections, injuries, arthritis, include inflammatory conditions, and unexplained symptoms. Your doctor uses an arthroscope with a tiny camera to view the inside of the elbow joint. Special instruments allow your doctor to treat joint problems through small incisions. This relieves symptoms and restores elbow function.  

Elbow arthroscopy is a common surgery, but it has risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having elbow arthroscopy. 

Other procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may also perform a biopsy during elbow arthroscopy. A biopsy involves removing a cell or tissue sample and testing it for cancer and other diseases. 

You may need open surgery, or elbow arthrotomy, for an elbow condition that your doctor cannot treat with arthroscopy. Open surgery involves a larger incision that allows your doctor to directly view and treat the elbow.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 5, 2013

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Medical References

Arthroscopy. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00109. Accessed June 29, 2013.
Elbow Arthroscopy. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00646. Accessed June 29, 2013.
Elbow Arthroscopy. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/Elbow-Arthroscopy.aspx. Accessed June 29, 2013.
Elbow Arthroscopy. Arthroscopy Association of North America. http://www.aana.org/EducationLibrary/Articles/ElbowArthroscopy/tabid/126/Default.aspx. Accessed June 29, 2013.
Elbow Arthroscopy. Hospital for Special Surgery. http://www.hss.edu/conditions_elbow-arthroscopy.asp. Accessed June 29, 2013.
Skinner HB, McMahon PJ. Current Diagnosis & Treatment on Orthopedics, 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2014.

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