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Surgical Procedures

What is a Diplomate?
The term "ACVS Diplomate" refers to a veterinarian who has been board certified in veterinary surgery.

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Arthroscopy in Dogs and Cats

The term "ACVS Diplomate" refers to a veterinarian who has been board certified in veterinary surgery. Only veterinarians who have successfully completed the certification requirements of the ACVS are Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and have earned the right to be called specialists in veterinary surgery.

Your ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeon completed a three-year residency program, met specific training and caseload requirements, performed research and had research published. This process was supervised by ACVS Diplomates, ensuring consistency in training and adherence to high standards. After completing the residency program, the individual passed a rigorous examination. Only then did your veterinary surgeon earn the title of ACVS Diplomate.

Overview/Description of the Procedure: 

Arthroscopy (or scoping a joint) is a technique to perform surgeries in the joint. Following general anesthesia, a specialized telescope (arthroscope) sizing from 1.9mm to 3.1mm is placed into the joint via a small incision. A camera is attached to the telescope, and the images within the joint are transmitted to a TV monitor. The surgeon will evaluate the joint structures and treat the joint pathologies using various specially designed instruments. Depending on the procedure, an additional 1 to 3 small incisions will be created to accommodate the specially designed arthroscopic instruments. Arthroscopy procedure is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Often the surgeon will first assess the severity and extent of the joint disease, followed by definite surgical treatment of the joint disease. 

Conditions Commonly Treated Using Procedure: 

Many joint disorders can be treated using the arthroscopy technique. 

  • In elbow dysplasia patients, arthroscopy is used to remove fragmented bone chips and debride diseased bone and soft tissue. 
  • Loose cartilage fragments can be removed arthroscopy in cases such as OCD of the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. 
  • In dogs with cranial cruciate ligament rupture, arthroscopy procedure can help with cranial cruciate ligament debridement, meniscus examination, and meniscal debridement If there is a tear present. 
  • In cases such as biceps tenosynovitis, the biceps tendon can be released arthroscopically and eliminated biceps tendon pain. 
  • Patient with infection within the joint (septic arthritis) can benefit from joint lavage and debridement under arthroscopy guidance. 

The advantages of the arthroscopy surgical technique are 

  • Direct visualization and diagnosis of articular cartilage and soft tissue damage. 
  • The magnifying effect of the arthroscopy telescope provides an accurate diagnosis. 
  • Compare to arthrotomy, the incisions are smaller and may create less pain and faster recovery.



The disadvantages of the arthroscopy surgical technique are:

  • Require specialized equipment and facilities. 
  • Advanced training for veterinary surgeons is necessary as this technique has a steep learning curve. 
  • Not all lesions can be identified or treated with arthroscopy technique, and an open arthrotomy may be needed. 
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This Animal Health Topic was written by and reviewed by Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.  Any opinions stated in this article are not necessarily the official position of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons recommends contacting an ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeon or your general veterinarian for more information about this topic.

To find an ACVS Diplomate, visit www.acvs.org/find-a-surgeon.