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Difference between Arthroscopic surgery and Open Surgery

Difference between arthroscopy surgery and open surgery

Difference between Arthroscopic surgery and Open Surgery

When considering orthopedic surgeries, especially in joint repairs, an important decision is that of selecting between arthroscopic surgery and open surgery. Each approach has unique advantages and disadvantages, stressing how important it is for patients and healthcare providers to know the difference between them.

Your surgeon will pick the one that fits your specific problem for the best results in the long run. The decision between open and arthroscopic surgery depends on the type of injury you have. If it’s arthritis in the shoulder, open surgery might be better, but for many sports injuries, doctors often go with arthroscopic surgery. 

In this article, we will discuss the differences between arthroscopic and open surgeries.

Arthroscopic Surgery:

Arthroscopic surgery, also known as minimally invasive surgery, involves the use of a tiny camera, called an arthroscope, inserted through small incisions to visualize and treat joint issues. This modern technique is often preferred by orthopedics for many patients due to various advantages, such as faster healing time, minimal scarring, and reduced postoperative pain, to name a few. 

Open Surgery:

Open surgery, in contrast, is a traditional approach involving larger incisions, providing surgeons with direct access to the affected joint. While it may seem less modern compared to arthroscopy, open surgery remains a necessary option for specific orthopedic scenarios, such as for severe shoulder injuries, including arthritic shoulder changes and traumatic shoulder injuries.

Now, let’s delve into the differences between them in detail. 


Arthroscopic surgery uses tiny cuts, usually less than half an inch, so there’s less scarring and a lower chance of infection. On the other hand, open surgery requires larger cuts, which may result in more noticeable scars.

Hospital stay duration: 

Arthroscopic procedures can frequently be done with local or regional anesthesia, allowing patients to return home the same day or after a brief hospital stay. In contrast, open surgery usually needs general anesthesia and a more extended hospitalization period.


Arthroscopic surgery usually leads to quicker recoveries compared to open surgery. Patients undergoing arthroscopy often have less pain, reduced swelling after surgery, and can return to regular activities sooner. Since arthroscopy involves minimal cutting, there’s less for the body to recover from.


Compared to open surgery, arthroscopic surgery has fewer risks like infection, blood loss, and nerve damage. However, the choice of the type of surgery depends on the patient’s condition. 


Orthopedic issues treated with open surgery have a low chance of happening again, but there can be complications. On the other hand, arthroscopic procedures have a higher recurrence rate. 

Post-operative condition: 

Arthroscopic surgery causes less pain after the operation since there’s no need to cut muscles or tendons to fix the joint. The mild discomfort you might feel can be easily managed.

In open surgery, larger incisions are made and can result in more pain for a few days during recovery. Generally, you will be provided with painkillers to reduce pain.


Choosing between arthroscopic and open surgery for joints isn’t a one-size-fits-all decision. Each method has its benefits and works better for certain situations.

When comparing arthroscopic surgery to open surgery, it’s crucial to consider each patient’s specific needs and how complicated their condition is.

Arthroscopic surgery has many advantages, like smaller cuts, quicker recovery, and less scarring. Still, open surgery might be a better choice for more complicated situations.

As technology improves and surgical techniques improve, the future promises even more personalized approaches to joint surgery. 

Consulting with experienced orthopedic surgeons will help assess the most suitable surgical approach for the best possible outcomes.