Thursday, August 27, 2009

Deciding About Arthroscopy

By Dr. Richard Edelson

Orthopedic Knee Evaluation: What is Involved?

First things first: See your M.D. for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon. Once you have done this, you will set an appointment for an evaluation of your knee problem. Your orthopedic surgeon will do three things at your initial appointment: Conduct a medical history, complete a physical examination, and order some tests.

Your orthopedic surgeon will ask you about both your specific knee problems and your general health when conducting your medical history.

Your physical examination will mostly be focused on your leg and knee. Your orthopedic surgeon will evaluate the overall alignment of your leg and determine the ROM (range of motion) of your knee as well as its muscle strength and its stability.

Once these steps are done, the orthopedic surgeon will send you for testing. You are likely to have some blood testing done. This will help detect the presence of arthritis. You will probably also have some x-rays as well as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). It is necessary to get both kinds of images because they provide different types of information. X-rays provide information about bones. The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) provides information about soft tissues.

The orthopedic surgeon will discuss the results of your testing with you and help you to decide what route to take in dealing with your knee problems. He or she will explain your options. They will probably include medication as well as several types of surgery. Arthroscopy will probably be one of your options.

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Your orthopedic surgeon will talk to you about the risks involved in arthroscopy - both those that may be encountered during the surgery and afterwards.

Your orthopedic surgeon will be more likely to recommend arthroscopy for you if you have experienced any of the following: Problems with the performance of your knee, such as giving way or catching. Persistent swelling and pain. Exhaustion of options, such as knee braces, medications, and physical therapy. Or if you just generally dont feel safe performing your ADL (activities of daily living) because of an unreliable knee, you may be a good candidate for arthroscopy.

Overall, arthroscopy is a safe and successful procedure that is appropriate for a broad range of people. Patients generally range in age from 20-60; however, this surgery has been successfully used on patients under the age of ten and on those over the age of eighty.

Preparing Yourself for Arthroscopy

Once your decision is made, your orthopedic surgeon will send you back to your physician for a complete physical. By doing this, you will be sure that everything is in good working order, and you will know about anything that may cause complications before your surgery.

Your doctor may do more tests at the request of the orthopedic surgeon. Sometimes a cardiogram is done. Sometimes more blood work is called for. In general, anything that will clarify your general condition so that your treatment can be exactly right for you, will be done.

If you are taking any over-the-counter products such as medications or supplements, remember to let your doctor and your orthopedic surgeon know about it. If you need to discontinue any of these products before surgery, they will inform you.

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