What happens during a shoulder arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy usually lasts about 1 hour. The following things will happen:

Evaluation. The surgeon will make a small (about 1/2-inch) incision in your shoulder and insert the arthroscope. The arthroscope will project enlarged images of your shoulder joint onto a screen. The area may also be inflated with harmless fluid so the parts of your shoulder will be easier to see and work on.

Procedures. To make repairs on your shoulder, the surgeon will make 2 or 3 more small incisions. Repairs may include:
  • Rotator cuff repair, in which tears in the tendons are repaired and extra bone growth is shaved down.
  • Surgery for shoulder instability, in which the rim of the shoulder joint and the tissues that attach to it are repaired.
  • Surgery for shoulder impingement, in which damaged or inflamed tissue is cleaned out. Areas of bone growth may be shaved down.
Closing the incision. Your incisions will be closed with sutures (stitches) or staples and covered with a dressing (bandage). Your surgeon will remove the sutures or staples when your incisions have healed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.