Arthroscopy in veterinary orthopaedics is fortunately gaining in importance. It offers a minimally invasive method of diagnosis of diseased joints and in the best case, treatment can be given immediately during the procedure.
Apart from the small injury of skin and soft tissues (invasiveness) an important advantage of arthroscopy compared with other diagnostic methods is that it allows very good assessment of the joint cartilage and the lining of the joint. The structures in the joint (intra-articular structures) are seen well magnified so that even very subtle injuries or lesions can be seen and an early diagnosis can be made. Due to the very small skin incisions, impaired wound healing as a result of arthroscopy is virtually non-existent and the infection risk is much lower compared with opening the joint (arthrotomy).
All joints of a dog’s forelegs and hindlegs can be arthroscoped. All joints benefit from arthroscopy compared with arthrotomy.
In the knee, assessment of the cruciate ligaments and menisci (knee cartilages) is many times better arthroscopically as even small lesions can be identified and treated. It is an easy matter to diagnose partial cruciate ligament tears and treat them early, so halting progression of the disease.
In the elbow, arthroscopy is used especially in animals with elbow dysplasia both for diagnosis and for treatment of the different diseases. The shoulder is often arthroscoped in the case of biceps tendon problems and shoulder instability and for a disease of the joint surface (osteochondrosis dissecans). Arthroscopy of the hip is used in hip dysplasia to estimate the usefulness of the operative procedure (double or triple pelvic osteotomy). Arthroscopy can also be performed on the ankle and wrist.
© AniCura, Dr. Nikola Medl