Shoulder arthroscopy is a popular form of 'keyhole' surgery – so called because it is carried out through a very small incision using special instruments.
This makes it less invasive than traditional, ‘open’ surgery and means you recover more quickly afterwards. Our experienced orthopaedic surgeons successfully perform this operation regularly at all of our modern and well equipped hospitals around the country.
You may benefit from this procedure if you have persistent pain, shoulder impingement, swelling and stiffness in your shoulder that physiotherapy has not resolved or where scans have been unable to identify a specific problem.
It can be used in a number of ways, including:
As the equipment needed for this operation is so small, only minor cuts are made to the skin and the healing time is much quicker than it would be for a traditional operation. This means:
While the NHS offers excellent care in this area you may find it hard to see a consultant quickly unless your symptoms are very severe. If you have private medical insurance or are willing to pay for the operation yourself, we can help. You may be referred to one of our respected surgeons via your own GP. We can make sure you see one of our experienced orthopaedic consultants within a few days of your referral to us.
If you decide to have your treatment with us, you will be looked after by an experienced multi-disciplinary care team.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having surgery can be a time of worry and anxiety. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
This operation usually takes 30 minutes to an hour, depending on what you are having done, and you will probably be put under a general anaesthetic so you'll be asleep throughout the procedure.
The doctor makes a small cut in the shoulder area and inserts a tube-like telescope, called an arthroscope, into the joint. This is about the same thickness as a straw and has a camera on its tip. It is used to assess damage before other specialised instruments are inserted to repair any injuries to bones and soft tissues.
Often all that is needed is a 'clean up', where loose bone or cartilage are removed from the joint. In other cases, muscles, ligaments and tendons may need to be stitched together if they've been torn or damaged.
You may be able to return home the same day but if you went under a general anaesthetic you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round under close supervision. After this, you will be taken to your room or comfortable area where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you’re ready to go home.
While you are in hospital a physiotherapist will help you with exercises that will help speed up your recovery.
Your shoulder will be sore after the operation and you may have some temporary swelling.
We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.
You will be advised on the steps you should take to speed up your recovery before you leave the hospital and you will probably be given a series of exercises to do every day.
You should arrange to take about a week off work. The time it takes to fully recover will depend on the extent of your shoulder injuries, your level of physical fitness before the operation and how well you follow the advice of your physiotherapist.
Most people can return to work relatively quickly, but it may be longer if your job involves lifting or carrying. Follow your surgeon’s advice about going back to your usual physical activities and sports. He or she will give you detailed instructions based on your lifestyle and the outcome of your arthroscopy.
Once you’re ready to be discharged, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home because you won’t be able to drive. You should also ask them to help with shopping and cleaning for a few weeks.
We're with you every step of the way through your recovery, even after you’ve left hospital.
After your operation we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, physiotherapy exercises, advice on what you should and shouldn't do. Typically your consultant will want to see you after your treatment to see how you’re doing, a follow up appointment will be made for you before you leave the hospital. You might also be seen by a physiotherapist.
On rare occasions, complications following surgery can occur. If you experience any of these symptoms –
Please don't hesitate to call us.
Your consultant will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns, we’re ready to help.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.