Shoulder Arthroscopy

Dr. Jurek performs shoulder arthroscopy to treat various problems inside the shoulder joint. Arthroscopy involves using a small, specialized camera and lens to view the structures of the shoulder and additional specialized instrumentation as needed. This allows Dr. Jurek to treat various shoulder problems using much smaller incisions (a couple of millimeters) than would be required with open surgery.

How Shoulder Arthroscopy Is Performed

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure typically performed in an outpatient surgery setting. General anesthesia is paired with a regional block to provide excellent pain relief after surgery.

Shoulder arthroscopy is a type of advanced surgery which utilizes specialized equipment and small incisions (each incision is just a couple of millimeters) to allow the surgeon to treat injuries with minimal surgical trauma to the patient. The special equipment consists of a camera (called an "arthroscope") with varying angles at the tip, a pump system, and various instruments made especially for specific tasks. The camera displays video images on a monitor and Dr. Jurek uses these images in real-time to guide her as she operates specialized miniature instruments.

Arthroscopy technology allows the surgeon to see everything inside the shoulder joint and frequently allows better visualization of the inside of the shoulder than what can be achieved with a conventional large incision.

This is the typical appearance of a shoulder undergoing arthroscopy. The arthroscope is to the left, and a portal with a shaver (instrument) is to the right.

Optimal visualization during arthroscopic surgery is accomplished through the use of an arthroscopic pump. The pump introduces sterile fluid into the inside of the shoulder, opening up space for the surgeon to see and to operate. The pump maintains a pressure that lets the surgeon see while making sure that the patient is safe.

Examples of what the surgeon sees on the monitor during an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. The left image shows a rotator cuff tear (RC) before the repair. The right image shows the rotator cuff after it has been repaired arthroscopically.

To start the procedure, the surgeon makes a very small incision and then inserts a small cannula through that incision. The cannula is a portal that is then used throughout the surgery to safely introduce instruments and specialized implants into the shoulder. Additional portals are created as needed. All arthroscopic shoulder instruments are designed to go through these cannulas and to function within the close quarters inside the shoulder. Rotator cuff repairs, debridements, labral repairs, and removal of loose bodies (to name just a few procedures) can all be performed through these small portals. The instruments can be inserted repeatedly without any injury to the soft tissue.

These are examples of one type of cannula used in shoulder arthroscopy surgery.

When the procedure is completed, the instruments are removed from the shoulder and the cannulas are then removed as well. The portal incisions are typically each closed with a single suture and then a small waterproof dressing is placed to cover the incision. Typically, the patient’s arm is then placed in a sling or shoulder immobilizer.

Indications for Shoulder Arthroscopy

Shoulder arthroscopy may be recommended for the following shoulder problems:

  • Rotator Cuff Tears
  • Shoulder Instability
  • Labral Tears
  • Biceps Tendinitis/Tear
  • Loose Bodies of Bone and/or Cartilage
  • Impingement Syndrome

Your Consult for Shoulder Arthroscopy

You will meet with Dr. Jurek in clinic to discuss your shoulder condition and determine if a shoulder arthroscopy procedure is an optimal treatment for you. Dr. Jurek will discuss your history and symptoms, perform a physical exam, review x-rays, and possibly order advanced imaging such as an MRI and suggest a trial of nonoperative treatment.

Recovery from Shoulder Arthroscopy

The recovery period from shoulder arthroscopy depends on the extent of your injury and the extent of the repair done. The goal of recovery after shoulder arthroscopy is to resume motion safely while allowing repaired structures to heal.

Dr. Jurek will likely prescribe physical therapy for you to help you regain shoulder range of motion, function, and, eventually, strength. Dedicated participation in your physical therapy program will ensure proper healing and restored shoulder function and strength.

Benefits of Shoulder Arthroscopy

The main benefits of shoulder arthroscopy include:

  • Minimal scars
  • No overnight hospital stay
  • Decreased joint pain and swelling
  • Fewer risks and complications

Risks and Complications from Shoulder Arthroscopy

The risks and complications associated with shoulder arthroscopy, although rare, include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • Persistent Pain
  • Nerve or Blood Vessel Injury
  • Need for Further Surgery
  • Blood Clots

Shoulder Arthroscopy Procedures in Seattle, Washington

If you are interested in talking to Dr. Sara Jurek about shoulder arthroscopy as a possible option to treat your shoulder condition, call (206) 386-2600 to schedule an appointment. For your convenience, you may also request an appointment online.

Dr. Jurek performs many surgeries such as rotator cuff repair surgery and labral repair surgery arthroscopically and has undergone specialized training focused specifically on these advanced techniques. If you are interested in seeing some examples of what she sees and does during a shoulder arthroscopy surgery, check out her Instagram page for pictures and videos.

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601 Broadway 7th Floor 
Seattle, WA 98122
3400 California Ave SW Ste. 210 
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 386-2600

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601 Broadway 
7th Floor 
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 386-2600

Ask A Question

Ask a Question
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