What is an Elbow Arthroscopy?

What is Elbow Arthroscopy?

Elbow arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed by orthopedic surgeons to diagnose and manage an array of disorders affecting the elbow joint.

Elbow arthroscopy is used to treat:

How is an Elbow Arthroscopy Performed?


Elbow arthroscopy uses fiber optics, a miniature camera, and surgical tools inserted into the affected joint area to visualize and treat the condition. The images are magnified and projected onto a monitor in the operating room.

The orthopedic surgeon is then able to maneuver the small surgical tools and remove the diseased cartilage, ligaments, tendons, or bone spurs. In cases of arthritic joint disease, the surgeon can smooth the bones that rub against each other and remove any loose fragments of bone or cartilage. This is especially helpful in surgeries to treat elbow osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Risks to Consider


As with any operative procedure, elbow arthroscopy carries risks. Some risks associated with elbow arthroscopy are:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Damage to nerves (rare)

When compared to traditional surgery, which uses large incisions to operate on the joint, elbow arthroscopy causes less harm to the soft tissues surrounding the joint. In addition, arthroscopic surgery lets the surgeon see the joint from different angles, allowing for a more precise evaluation of the elbow joint.

Preparing for an Elbow Arthroscopy


You will be advised not to eat or drink anything before the surgery. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe certain exercises designed to build muscle strength around the joint. Most patients are discharged the same day.


What to Expect after an Elbow Arthroscopy

After the Surgery

After surgery, the anesthesia will begin to wear off. Your doctor will likely prescribe pain medication to make you feel more comfortable during your recovery. You will be advised to elevate your arm higher than your heart to alleviate swelling and pain.

Generally, it takes about six to 12 weeks to recover from elbow arthroscopy. During this time, you will be prescribed physical rehabilitation to strengthen your elbow and help speed your recovery. NewYork-Presbyterian has physical rehabilitation centers conveniently located throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Get Care

Elbow Arthroscopy at NewYork-Presbyterian

If you have been experiencing from persistent elbow pain, please call one of the expert orthopedic surgeons at NewYork-Presbyterian. We can review your treatment options, which may include an elbow arthroscopy.