Arthroscopy or arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive or keyhole surgical procedure on a joint which can be used to examine the joint in more detail or treat certain conditions.
Although most people associate arthroscopy with knee problems, it can also be used on other joints such as the ankle, elbow, foot, hip shoulder and wrist.
Apart from allowing the surgeon to examine the joint, arthroscopy can also be used to remove or trim fragments of cartilage or bone or carry out minor soft tissue repairs.
Very small incisions are made which are only big enough for the endoscope and instruments to pass through (usually a few millimetres).
The are many advantages of arthroscopy over open surgery;
* Reduced recovery time for the patient
* Less damage to surrounding soft tissue
* Less pain following surgery
* Reduced risk of infection
* Performed as a day case procedure requiring no overnight hospital stay.
General anaesthetic is most likely to be used but arthroscopy procedures can be carried out under an epidural or local anaesthetic in some cases.
The video animation below by Bupa Healthcare shows what happens during a knee arthroscopy procedure.
NHS Choices information on arthroscopy