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Prior to Surgery

  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), lopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood thinners.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that you may have.
  • You will have blood samples taken in case you need a blood transfusion.
  • Let your doctor know if you have a cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout or other illness prior to surgery. This may require that your reschedule your procedure.
  • Do not smoke. This will help you to recover quicker.

On the Day of the Surgery

  • Since you may have general anesthesia, you will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After Surgery

  • You will have a dressing over your surgical site for the next few days. You will need to keep the surgical site dry and avoid showering until the wound is no longer draining.
  • Most patients can go home the same day.
  • You can expect some pain for at least a week after surgery. Your physician will advise you which medications will help ease the discomfort. Ice packs and elevation of the elbow will also be beneficial in your recovery.
  • Your doctor will recommend some light finger and wrist movement exercises to perform to help reduce swelling and increase circulation to the area.
  • Most patients feel much better within the first week, but full recovery takes several weeks or a few months, based on the complexity of the repair.

Recovery: what to expect in the next few weeks

  • You may have to wear a splint at first, depending on the type of repair.
  • While you may feel better after a couple of weeks, you need to follow your physician’s orders on recommended activities.
  • You will prescribed a series of appointments for physical therapy to help regain strength in your elbow.
  • While you will be able to resume light activities, your physician may advise against participating in sports.

Arthroscopy Q&A

What does elbow arthroscopy involve?

A patient is fully sedated. The orthopaedic surgeon injects fluid into the elbow. The fluid clears the joint and provides a better view of the elbow. Four to six small incisions are made around the elbow, and the fiber optic camera is inserted into the joint. Images are projected onto a screen to guide the surgeon through the repair. If there is diseased muscle, it can be removed and healthy muscle is reattached to the bone.

How many incisions are made?

Four to six very small incisions are made around the elbow.

How long do I stay in the hospital?

Patients are normally released the same day of surgery. In rare cases, you may be required to stay overnight. Physical therapy will be prescribed to help you regain full mobility.

What is the recovery time?

Most patients will feel better within a week. Full recovery takes several weeks to a few months, based on the complexity of your repair. Your doctor can advise you on what activities would help you regain your strength.