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active lifestyles can ask too much of our knees and shoulders.
Problems may happen over time, often from repeated motions,
or be caused by a sudden injury. The good news is that arthroscopy
Development of the arthroscope has revolutionized
surgical treatment of the knee. With the help of this high
tech device, today's joint problems may be diagnosed and
treated without the discomfort of large incisions or the
inconvenience of extended hospital stays. And it was NASA
that made it all possible.
An arthroscope is an optical instrument connected to a light
source. At the end of the instrument is a long metal tube,
which is inserted through a tiny incision into the knee,
providing the surgeon with a good view of the knee structures.
The optics magnify these structures two to two and a half
times, creating an image that is conveyed to a TV screen
which displays an even larger picture of the knee for the
surgeon to observe.
This procedure usually calls for a general or spinal anesthetic
to relax the muscles and ligaments of the knee, allowing
the joint surfaces to fall apart and creating space into
which the arthroscope and the tiny arthroscopic instruments
can be passed.
The exact procedure, of course, depends on what damage has
occurred to the structures inside the knee, so diagnosis
is important. On the various procedures treatable by arthroscopy,
the repair of torn knee cartilage is the most common. But
numerous other conditions are easily corrected with this
state-of-the-art technology. Knee cap problems, loose pieces
of detached joint surface (loose bodies), knee ligament
repairs and reconstructions, and even some arthritic conditions
can be treated with this remarkable little spin off of our