Minimally invasive surgery has been advancing over the past few decades, meaning that people suffering with a wide range of conditions can benefit from more sophisticated techniques that result in the same outcome but with less pain and a shorter recovery time. What minimally invasive techniques are used in orthopaedic surgery? Are you suitable for surgery using minimally invasive techniques?
What does “minimally invasive” surgery mean?
Historically, surgery involved the doctor making large incisions in order to fix a problem. This causes stress on the soft tissue that surrounds a joint, or injury and generally takes quite some time for your body to fully recover.
Minimally invasive works towards making much smaller incisions to avoid trauma and focus on reaching just the problem area. Typically, this means reduced pain, less risk during surgery and your body can recover much faster following treatment.
Minimally-invasive knee treatments
Arthroscopy is the medical term used for key-hole surgery, a minimally invasive technique which is nowadays commonly used in orthopaedics.
This technique uses a small camera on the end of a very thin, flexible tube that is inserted through an incision in the knee area. One or more other incisions are made to insert small surgical tools that are able to carry out the operation.
The camera broadcasts the interior of the knee to a screen, which the surgeon uses to guide the operating tools to repair whatever part of the knee joint needs attention.
It is a very precise and careful procedure and expertise by the doctor will add to the success of the treatment.
Knee arthroscopy can be used to treat many conditions, including these most common ones:
- ACL tears
- Meniscal tears
- Removal of loose bodies
- Removal of inflamed synovium
Minimally-invasive hip treatments
In the same way as knee arthroscopy, small incisions are made to the hip joint where a camera and surgical tools can be inserted to perform the procedure.
The enlarged images seen on the screen help the surgeon to navigate and ensure they are absolutely precise in their actions.
Hip arthroscopy is used for a wide range of conditions including:
- Injuries to the hip joint
- Hip dysplasia
- Femoroacetabular impingement
- To remove loose bodies in the hip
- To relieve a hip joint infection
Minimally-invasive ankle treatments
The same technique can be used on the ankle, to diagnose and treat a range of ankle conditions. The primary goals of the surgery are to reduce ankle pain and improve overall function of the joint.
Conditions treated with ankle arthroscopy include:
- Ankle arthritis
- Ankle fractures
- Instability in the ankle ligaments
- Anterior ankle impingement
- Posterior ankle impingement
- Infection of the ankle joint
- Loose bodies in the ankle joint
- Osteochondral defect – areas of damaged cartilage in the ankle joint
- Diagnosis of unknown ankle symptoms
Arthroscopy can essentially be performed on other joints too, such as the shoulder and wrist. It can also be used for some spine surgery too.
Minimally invasive total joint replacement
These days orthopaedics has advanced so much that even full joint replacement can be performed as minimally invasive.
It isn’t suitable for everyone or all cases, but advances are being made all the time so it is always beneficial to speak to an orthopaedic specialist about your options.
During this surgery, incisions are made and damaged surfaces of the joint can be removed and replaced with an artificial version.
Traditionally, the entire joint would need to be exposed to conduct the surgery, often needing to cut through muscles and tendons to gain access to the joint.
Naturally, by not disturbing the body as much as possible means even for a full joint replacement your recovery time can be considerably reduced from these new techniques.
Examples of minimally invasive joint replacements
Two examples of minimally invasive joint replacement techniques used at Carrothers OrthopaedicsNorrish are:
Micro-Posterior Hip Approach – which is an innovative procedure with proven early outcomes, such as the ability to walk with minimal assistance within a day or two. Extra care and diligence is required by an experienced surgeon to perform this procedure.
Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty – which typically reduces the incision from 7-8″ for the traditional knee surgery, to 3-3.5″ for the minimally-invasive surgery. Hospital times are also reduced from 3-5 days to 1-2 days, making this a more beneficial option for the patient all round.