What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?


Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to visualize, diagnose and treat shoulder problems. It is the second most orthopedic surgery performed after knee arthroscopy. Shoulder impingement and rotator cuff injuries are often managed with shoulder arthroscopy. Rotator cuff surgery is a common type of shoulder arthroscopy.

During the shoulder arthroscopy procedure, your doctor will insert a tiny camera (arthroscope) into your shoulder joint through the tiny incisions made in the shoulder joint. This tiny camera displays the inner structures in a connected video screen and the surgeon used these images to locate the source of injury and to guide the instruments. As it is a minimally invasive procedure, a small incision is only needed for the procedure which makes less postoperative pain for the patient.

Shoulder arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure that lets patients go home on the same day. However complete recovery may take a few weeks to months. Medication, physiotherapy, and exercises will help to speed up the healing process. 

What Is The Purpose Of Doing Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that helps healthcare providers to detect, diagnose, and treat shoulder problems. Your doctor will recommend you undergo shoulder arthroscopy only if your shoulder pain and associated difficulties are not controlled with the use of medications, physical therapy, proper rest, and injections. 

Following are the conditions in which your doctor may recommend you to undergo shoulder arthroscopy:

  • A torn or damaged biceps or tendon
  • A torn or damaged cartilage rings (labrum) and ligaments
  • A torn rotator cuff (rotator cuff injuries)
  • Frozen shoulder
  • An inflammation around the rotator cuff or a bone spur
  • Arthritis of the end of the collar bone (clavicle)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome
  • Injuries to the tissue around the shoulder socket
  • Inflammation or damaged lining in the joint as a result of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Shoulder instability; The shoulder joint becomes too loose causing sliding or dislocation of the joint

Shoulder Arthroscopy - Exploring The Procedure:

Before shoulder arthroscopy, your doctor will have a detailed discussion with you regarding the symptoms you are experiencing, do you have any other medical conditions, and which medications you are taking currently. After the discussion, they will make a physical examination. Along with this, your doctor will ask you to perform certain diagnostic tests like X-rays, blood tests, and ECG to assess your health status. Shoulder arthroscopy usually takes less than an hour to complete.

The following are the steps carried out in shoulder arthroscopy:

  • You will be instructed to be in a beach chair position (semi-seated position) or lying on your side.
  • The nursing staff will shave the hair and clean the area to be operated with an antiseptic solution. They might place your arm in a holding device to ensure your arm stays still throughout the procedure.
  • Your surgeon will inject a fluid into your shoulder that helps to inflate the shoulder joint. This allows easier visibility for the surgeon to see.
  • Your surgeon makes a small incision (keyhole; small hole about a button size) in your shoulder. Through this incision, they will insert an arthroscope (tiny camera).
  • The arthroscope displays the images of your shoulder on a video screen. Your surgeon uses these images to find the source of your problem.
  • Your surgeon will make small cuts in your shoulder and insert tiny instruments.
  • Once the surgery is done, the surgeon closes the incisions by sewing. They will stitch the incision, put a small bandage, and cover it with an additional large bandage on the top.

Shoulder arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure and it takes nearly an hour to complete it. You can go home on the same day. You will need to be in the hospital for 1-2 hours after surgery to recover. Your surgeon will give medications to control pain if needed.

What Are The Benefits Of Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Compared to other open surgeries which require larger incisions, shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that needs tiny incisions to complete the procedure. This will help to reduce post-operative pain and to speed up the healing process.  Shoulder arthroscopy often tends to cause less joint pain and stiffness as compared to other open surgeries. 

What Are The Complications Of Shoulder Arthroscopy?

  • The following are the risks or complications associated with shoulder arthroscopy:
  • Allergic reactions to the medicine and anesthesia
  • Excessive bleeding and formation of blood clots
  • Infections
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Stiffness in the shoulder
  • Persistent pain even after shoulder arthroscopy
  • Swelling
  • Weakness of the shoulder joint
  • Injury to the nerves and blood vessels
  • Failure to heal
  • Chondrolysis (damage to the cartilage of the shoulder)

What Is The Recovery Period After Shoulder Arthroscopy?

You may experience pain and swelling around the joint for several weeks and it may take weeks to months for complete healing after shoulder arthroscopy. Taking pain-relieving medicines and applying ice packs will help you to reduce the pain. Your doctor may advise you to put your hands in a sling to protect your shoulder. 

The shoulder arthroscopy rehabilitation plan includes gentle exercise and physical therapy to control pain and improve joint movements. Complete recovery depends upon the complexity of the surgery you had. Ask your doctor in detail about the things to be carried out for a faster recovery.

What Are The Different Types Of Shoulder Arthroscopy?

The following are the common arthroscopic procedures:

  • Rotator cuff repair
  • Removal or repair of labrum
  • Removal of loose tissue or inflamed tissue
  • Repair of ligaments
  • Repair of recurrent shoulder dislocation
  • Fracture repair
  • Cyst excision
  • Shoulder replacement
  • Among these, rotator cuff surgery is most commonly done.

How Much Does Shoulder Arthroscopy Cost in India?

The cost for shoulder arthroscopy varies for different people according to the complexity of surgery done, hospital chosen for surgery, surgeon’s fee, duration of hospital stay, medicines and other laboratory charges, overall health of the patient as well as the insurance coverage the patient has. 


Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that helps to treat shoulder problems including shoulder impingements and rotator cuff tears. The procedure needs very minimal incisions and a shorter duration about 1 hour to complete it. You can go home on the same day after shoulder arthroscopy, but the complete recovery may take several weeks to months. Exercise and physical therapy help to speed up the healing process. Discuss in detail with your doctor regarding the rehabilitation plans after shoulder arthroscopy to promote faster healing.

Experience personalized care in joint restoration from Dr ISHWAR Bohra, a senior orthopedic surgeon in Delhi. Book your consultation today.


Q: Is shoulder arthroscopy a major surgical procedure?

A: Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that helps to manage shoulder problems including shoulder impingements and rotator cuff tears. It takes about an hour to complete the procedure.

Q: What is the success rate of shoulder arthroscopy?

A: Shoulder arthroscopy is a safer procedure and about 90% of people experience pain relief and stiffness relief after the procedure. It may take weeks to several months for a complete recovery.


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