Research Article| Volume 8, ISSUE 1, P89-97, March 1992

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Arthroscopy of the shoulder joint

  • A. Ga¨chter
    Address correspondence and reprint request to Prof. A. Ga¨chter, Director, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, University Clinic, Kantonsspital Basel, Spitalstrasse 21, CH4031 Basel, Switzerland.
    Department of Orthpaedics and Traumatology, Universitatsklinik, Kantonspital Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
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  • W. Seelig
    Department of Orthpaedics and Traumatology, Universitatsklinik, Kantonspital Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
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      Arthroscopy is without doubt the most comprehensive procedure for shoulder lesions, providing even better inspection of the interior of the joint than conventional open procedures. In 174 diagnostic arthroscopies, it proved more reliable than the computed tomography scan, ultrasound, or arthrography. The results of ultrasonography proved disappointing despite the enthusiastic reports on this technique, probably due to imperfections of equipment and lack of expertise rather than any inherent defect in the method. Arthrography seems to have a high incidence of false results. Though an invasive method requiring anesthesia, arthroscopy offers many diagnostic advantages such as an assessment of the role of the long biceps tendon and glenohumeral ligaments in recurrent or ordinary dislocation and the recognition of rotator cuff lesions not detectable at arthrography. It is also possible to assess the nature of shoulder instability and so to plan the appropriate operative procedure. A major advantage of arthroscopy is the possibility of carrying out treatment in the same session, though many of the suggested procedures are very demanding in terms of technical skill and time; the complication rate is often excessive. It is therefore best to restrict operative arthroscopy to simpler procedures such as irrigation in joint infections, the trimming of infolded flaps of labrum or stubs of biceps tendon, and the removal of loose bodies, where results are excellent. Arthroscopic repair of the rotator cuff or stapling of the labrum are more questionable regarding successes, complications, and recurrence. The equipment for arthroscopic operations needs improvement. Perhaps the major advantage of arthroscopic diagnosis is that it directs open procedures to the essential, thus minimizing operative trauma.


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