Shoulder Surgery Overview

Shoulder Surgery Overview, Knee and Shoulder InstituteIf a shoulder joint injury does not improve with non-invasive therapies, the surgeon may recommend an arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder. Arthroscopy can help to diagnose, evaluate and repair the problems inside the shoulder joint. Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven Thomas and Dr. Gregory Bigler provide shoulder surgery to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.


What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

The term shoulder arthroscopy literally means “looking within the shoulder joint.” It involves the insertion of a tiny camera or arthroscope into the shoulder joint. The surgeon can view the images of the underlying joint structure to guide the use of miniature surgical instruments.

Arthroscopy allows for smaller incisions, unlike a standard, open surgery. This helps to ensure reduced pain, shorter recovery period, and less risk of complications. Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler are board certified orthopedic surgeons receiving patients from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas.


Surgical Procedure

Shoulder arthroscopy is usually performed using local anesthesia or regional nerve blocks to numb the shoulder and arm. The nerve blocks may be combined with sedation. The procedure generally takes about one hour, but the length of surgery can vary according to the extent of repair needed. Once the patient is in the surgery room, they will be positioned so that the surgeon can adjust the arthroscope correctly to have a clear view of the inside of the shoulder.

After the positioning, the surgical team may remove hair in the affected area, and clean the skin with an antiseptic solution. The shoulder and arm will be covered with sterile drapes. The procedure will begin with the surgeon injecting fluid into the shoulder to inflate the joint. This enables easier viewing of the underlying structures through the arthroscope. Thereafter, a small puncture in the shoulder will be made for the arthroscope.

The fluid flows through the arthroscope to keep the view clear and control bleeding. A monitor will receive images from the arthroscope to allow the surgeon will identify the precise areas of problem. The surgeon will then insert other tiny instruments for repair through additional small incisions. Tasks such as shaving, cutting, grasping, suture passing and knot tying will require specialized instruments.

In several cases, the surgeon may use special devices to anchor stitches into the shoulder bone. The repairs will be performed carefully and precisely, without disrupting the surrounding healthy muscles, nerves and tissue. Once the procedure is completed, the surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or steri-strips and cover the area with a soft bandage.



Recovery with a shoulder arthroscopy will be faster as compared to an open surgery. However, it will still take a few weeks before the shoulder joint has recovered fully. Pain and discomfort may occur in the first week, which may be managed with pain meds.

Ice therapy may be used to gain relief from pain and swelling. The patient may feel more comfortable propped up in bed or sleeping in a reclining chair in the first few days. Normal activities may be resumed in about two weeks.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. call (702) 933-9393; Physical Therapy (702) 933-9394

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