Skip to main content

Welcome to the Circle Health Group website. We've changed our name from BMI Healthcare. Just as before, we have thousands of specialists offering expert healthcare. Click here to find a specialist or a hospital near you.

Elbow arthroscopy (keyhole) surgery

Struggling with pain or stiffness in your elbow? Elbow a arthroscopy will investigate and confirm what exactly the problem is and in some cases, treat it.

Elder-man-having-shoulder-and-elbow-medical-exam

What is an elbow arthroscopy?

Elbow arthroscopy is a procedure used to examine, diagnose and treat problems affecting the elbow. Your surgeon will use a miniature camera to see inside your elbow. This will be inserted through making small cuts. 

Elbow arthroscopy is also sometimes referred to as keyhole surgery.

What are the benefits of elbow arthroscopy?

When the elbow is damaged it can prevent movement, becoming stiff. The aim of the surgery is to investigate and confirm what exactly the problem is and in some cases, treat it. Patients with elbow arthritis who undergo arthroscopy will see significant improvement in their symptoms and function.

Also, because the surgery involves making smaller cuts in the soft tissue, there will be less pain, swelling and stiffness than conventional surgery, with a faster recovery.

Are there any alternatives to elbow arthroscopy surgery?

Problems inside a joint can often be diagnosed using special tests such as CT and MRI scans. However, you may then need an elbow arthroscopy to treat the problem.

What does an elbow arthroscopy involve?

The elbow arthroscopy operation is performed under a regional or general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about half an hour.

Your surgeon will usually make about two to four small cuts around the joint. They will place a small telescope through one of the cuts so they can examine the joint. They will place surgical instruments through the other cuts if they need to treat any problems with the joint (see figure 1).

What complications can happen?

Elbow arthroscopy is generally a safe and routine procedure, with benefits outweighing the disadvantages for most patients. Any invasive surgery has risks such as pain, bleeding, infection in the surgical wound or unsightly scarring.

Specific complications of this operation:

  • Bleeding into the joint
  • Infection in the joint
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the arm and hand (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)
  • Damage to nerves
  • Damage to the radial nerve

The consultant will discuss the full risks ahead of the procedure. 

How soon will I recover?

Recovery time can vary from patient to patient, but you should be able to resume to normal activities after a few weeks following surgery. You should also be able to go home on the same day of surgery.

After the arthroscopy your elbow will be placed into an elbow split. This will allow you to move your hand but also protect the elbow. Keeping the arm elevated will reduce the risk of excessive swelling and pain.

Physiotherapy exercises may be recommended, depending on the overall condition of your elbow.

Specialists offering Elbow arthroscopy (keyhole) surgery

View all specialists

Mr Edward Ibrahim

Consultant Orthopaedic Upper Limb Surgeon

MBBS, BSc (Hons), FRCS (Tr&Orth), MEd DIC

The Clementine Churchill Hospital 1 more Syon Clinic

View profile Book online

Mr Dimitrios Tsekes

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Upper Limb Specialist

FRCS(orth), FEBOT, MSc

The Cavell Hospital 1 more The Kings Oak Hospital

View profile Book online

Professor Alan Johnstone

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBChB, FRCSE, FRCS Glas, FRCSE Orth

Albyn Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Duncan John Andrew Learmonth

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

BSc FRCS

The Edgbaston Hospital 1 more The Priory Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Divyang Shukla

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBBS, MS (Orth), DNB (Orth), MCh (Orth), FRCS, FRCS (Trauma and Orth), Fellow of European Board of Trauma and Orthopaedics

Three Shires Hospital

View profile Book online

Prof Tony Kochhar

Consultant Shoulder & Upper Limb Surgeon/ Sports Injury Specialist

MSc, MBBS, MRCS, FRCS(Orth)

Chelsfield Park Hospital 1 more The Sloane Hospital

View profile Book online

Find a specialist

i