Arthroscopy is defined as minimally invasive joint surgery. Many conditions leading to lameness in dogs are due to problems in the joints. Arthroscopy allows us to exam, diagnose, and treat joint problems without the need for open surgery. The benefits of arthroscopy include better visualization for more accurate diagnosis, smaller incisions (less pain and faster healing), and less damage to the joint and surrounding structures.
The most common arthroscopic procedure we perform is for repair of a torn cruciate ligament in dogs (ACL injury). This is a very common injury in active dogs and arthroscopy allows us to perform repair with much less pain and quicker return to normal activities. Smaller incisions are very helpful in our patients that tend to lick at their incisions and be too active too soon after surgery.
Arthroscopy is also commonly used in the elbow and shoulder joints to treat injuries or developmental problems in these joints. Problems in these joints are most common in young growing dogs and typically involve bone fragments or cartilage flaps that can be treated using arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is often the only way to accurately diagnose these types of problems.