When you ask surgeons about the importance of crystal-clear visualization in arthroscopy, you’ll often hear something about better visualization yielding better results. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find out just why that is. Augustus “Gus” Mazzocca, MS, MD, FAAOS, FAOA, medical director of Mass. General Brigham Sport Medicine, says better visualization gives surgeons the ability to assess tissue quality and damaged areas on patients when planning their approach for arthroscopic repairs. He uses the example of rotator cuff tears, which come in all different varieties, to illustrate his point. “A 45-year-old construction worker who suffers an acute tear is likely to have good quality tissue compared to a 71-year-old who starts to have a tear tracked to the glenoid,” says Dr. Mazzocca. “These become different procedures.”
The ability to assess tissue quality and easily determine the nature of the problem (acute versus chronic) is a key benefit of cutting-edge visualization. Such visualization is achieved in arthroscopic surgery by a combination of excellent optics on the arthroscopes themselves, improved video technology so that the scope image is transmitted to the flat screen monitor with the highest resolution possible and techniques such as joint distraction in hip, shoulder and ankle arthroscopy, says James Stone, MD, president of the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA).