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What is shoulder arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is minimally invasive surgery to diagnose or treat many types of shoulder problems. This includes inflammatory conditions, infections, injuries, arthritis, and unexplained symptoms. Your doctor uses an arthroscope with a tiny camera to view the inside of the shoulder joint. Your doctor can treat joint problems using special instruments during a shoulder arthroscopy. This relieves symptoms and restores range of motion. 

Shoulder arthroscopy is a common procedure, but it involves some risk and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having shoulder arthroscopy. 

Other procedures that may be performed

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

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

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 July 3, 2013.
Shoulder Arthroscopy. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00589. Accessed July 3, 2013.
Shoulder Arthroscopy. DePuy Synthes. http://www.depuy.com/patients-and-caregivers/shoulder/arthroscopy. Accessed July 3, 2013.
Shoulder Arthroscopy. Hospital for Special Surgery. http://www.hss.edu/conditions_shoulder-arthroscopy.asp. Accessed July 3, 2013.

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