Arthroscopy has rapidly become the technique of choice for many forms of joint disease in the dog and cat. The ‘key hole’ approach and miniaturised instrumentation results in minimal morbidity to the patient whilst the magnification created by the lens systems allow for an improved capability to examine the interior of a joint.
Arthroscopy is routinely used to both diagnose and treat a wide range of joint conditions.
- A. Shoulder:
- In the shoulder joint arthroscopy has become the routine treatment of osteochondrosis of the humeral head with grasping forceps and ‘punch’ forceps used to remove the detaching ‘flap’ of diseased surface cartilage and retrieval of free floating fragments (so-called joint mice) from within the joint.
Injury to the stabilising soft tissues of the shoulder joint, notably the medial gleno-humeral ligament can be readily visualised allowing appropriate treatment plans to be devised.
Tearing of the tendon of origin of the biceps brachii muscle is and occasional cause of shoulder lameness in the dog. Arthroscopy uniquely affords the opportunity to
both diagnose and treat through the key-hole.
- B. Elbow:
- The use of arthroscopy has advanced the ability to manage both developmental and acquired conditions particularly those conditions involving the medial compartment of the canine elbow joint.
Whether the objective is to diagnose Medial Coronoid Process Disease, joint incongruity or to map the extent of loss of articular cartilage in the planning of more advanced palliative treatments (both medical and surgical).
With the benefit of very small power-tools, arthroscopy is routinely used to partially remove compressed ‘fragments’ of the medial coronoid process of the ulna.
- C. Stifle:
- Diagnosis of occult injuries to the cranial cruciate ligament and diagnosis and surgical resection of secondary or ‘late’ tears to the medial meniscus (‘cartilage’) represent the principal uses of arthroscopy in the stifle joint.
With significantly less insult to the joint than conventional open arthrotomy, arthroscopically assisted stifle surgical cases should be able to return to activity with less discomfort and surgical scarring.