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Small Scars, Big Benefits

Arthroscopic surgery gets patients back on their feet faster.  

Performing arthroscopic surgery on a foot or ankle ailment offers patients more than just a smaller scar.

The procedure, which involves making small incisions, also can be less painful, result in fewer complications and get patients back on their feet faster than with traditional “open” surgery, according to Michael S. Lee, DPM, FACFAS.

While the use of arthroscopic surgery has been around for many years, the benefits of performing surgeries arthroscopically, which allows surgeons to repair common ailments using high-tech cameras and arthroscopic surgical equipment through one-quarter of an inch or smaller incisions, continue to increase for patients, especially in the area of foot and ankle surgery.

“The use of arthroscopy or minimally invasive techniques offer patients many advantages over traditional surgery, including decreased pain, fewer complications, lower risk of infection and quicker recovery time,” Dr. Lee, the Iowa foot and ankle surgeon, said. “In most cases, arthroscopic surgery can be done on an outpatient basis allowing patients to recover at home instead of the hospital.”

New technology is also paving the way for better outcomes for patients undergoing minimally invasive surgery. For example, foot and ankle surgeons are using high-definition monitors and scopes during arthroscopic surgery, and improved instruments allow injuries that once required invasive surgery to be treated arthroscopically, Dr. Lee said.

“Additionally, the advances in technology and equipment have also allowed more surgeons to take advantage of using arthroscopy in their practice, which provides more patients with increased treatment options and better outcomes,” Dr. Lee added

Patients of all ages and activity levels are now able to take advantage of arthroscopic surgery. “The patients who benefit most tend to be at opposite ends of the spectrum—really active patients such as athletes, and the sicker or older patients,” Dr. Lee said.

Many common foot and ankle injuries or conditions can be treated using small incisions, including fractures, arthritis, bone spurs, exercise-induced compartment syndromes and Achilles tendon injuries, according to Dr. Lee. As surgical procedures continue to evolve, new instrumentation is developed to make these procedures easier and more amendable to minimally invasive techniques.