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Minor Impact, Major Results with Arthroscopic Shoulder: April 28, 2012

When it comes to shoulder surgery, arthroscopic procedures give patients major results while leaving only a minor impact on the body.

“Used to be that you had to make a larger incision; you had to damage quite a bit of the tissues to get down before you could do the operation that you were intending to perform,” says Dr. Andrew Follweiller, an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

Shoulder arthroscopy uses a tiny camera to examine and repair tissue around the shoulder joint. Surgery is performed through a few small holes.

“We can do most of these surgeries through about three or four poke holes in your shoulder. We can kind of come in from the side, one in the back, one in the front and then one on the side and possibly an additional fourth porthole as we call them,” says Dr. Follweiller.

Before arthroscopy, just accessing the damaged tissue created a new injury as surgeons cut through muscle to get to the joint. The result was more pain and swelling and a slower recovery because the entire shoulder was impacted.

“What we’re trying to do is allow the patient to recover faster and allow them to use these accessory muscles while the other ones are healing,” says Dr. Follweiller.

Arthroscopy is common treatment for rotator cuff repair and labral tears. It’s now done as an outpatient procedure.

“The basic premise is to do as little damage as possible, to get in and exact the maximal benefit,” says Dr. Follweiller.

If it’s caught and repaired early enough, the arthroscopic shoulder procedure can give patients years of pain free movement and function.