What Is An Arthrotomy?

Charlotte Miller

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Are you curious to know what is an arthrotomy? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about an arthrotomy in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is an arthrotomy?

The human body is a complex and interconnected system of bones, muscles, and joints. While many of us enjoy a lifetime of healthy joint function, sometimes medical conditions or injuries necessitate surgical intervention. One such procedure is known as “arthrotomy.” In this blog, we will explore what an arthrotomy is, when it is used, and what patients can expect from this surgical technique.

What Is An Arthrotomy?

Arthrotomy is a surgical procedure that involves making an incision into a joint. The term “arthro” is derived from the Greek word for joint, and “tomy” means to cut or incise. Therefore, an arthrotomy literally means “cutting into a joint.”

The primary purpose of an arthrotomy is to provide direct access to the interior of a joint. Once the joint is opened, the surgeon can address various issues, such as repairing damaged cartilage, removing foreign objects or debris, treating infections, or conducting other necessary procedures within the joint.

When Is Arthrotomy Used?

Arthrotomy may be employed in a variety of medical situations, including:

  1. Orthopedic Surgery: One of the most common applications of arthrotomy is in orthopedic surgery. Surgeons may use this technique to repair or replace damaged joints, such as the knee, hip, or shoulder. For instance, arthrotomy is frequently employed in total knee replacement surgery, where the damaged knee joint is opened to remove damaged tissue and replace it with prosthetic components.
  2. Joint Debridement: In cases of severe joint damage or arthritis, an arthrotomy can be performed to remove damaged tissue, bone spurs, or inflamed synovial tissue, providing relief and improved joint function.
  3. Treatment of Joint Infections: If a joint becomes infected, an arthrotomy may be necessary to access the joint space, remove infected tissue, and irrigate the area with antibiotics to treat the infection effectively.
  4. Exploratory Surgery: Sometimes, when the exact cause of joint pain or dysfunction is unclear, an arthrotomy can be performed to inspect the joint and diagnose any hidden issues.

The Arthrotomy Procedure

An arthrotomy procedure typically follows these steps:

  1. Preparation: The patient is prepared for surgery, including administering anesthesia to ensure they are comfortable and pain-free during the procedure.
  2. Incision: A surgeon makes a carefully planned incision over the affected joint. The size and location of the incision depend on the specific procedure and the joint being accessed.
  3. Joint Access: Once the joint is exposed, the surgeon can perform the necessary procedures, such as repairing ligaments, removing damaged tissue, or inserting prosthetic components.
  4. Closure: After completing the required interventions, the surgeon closes the incision using sutures or staples and dresses the wound appropriately.
  5. Recovery: Patients are closely monitored during the initial recovery period, which may include physical therapy and rehabilitation to regain joint function and mobility.


Arthrotomy is a surgical technique that plays a crucial role in the treatment of various joint-related conditions. While it involves cutting into a joint, it is a carefully planned and controlled procedure performed by skilled surgeons to alleviate pain, restore function, and improve the overall quality of life for individuals facing joint issues. If you or someone you know is scheduled for an arthrotomy, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional to understand the specifics of the procedure and what to expect during and after surgery.

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What Does Arthrotomy Mean In Medical Terms?

n. the surgical opening of any joint. It is performed to allow joint inspection, removal of a loose body, drainage of pus (from an infected joint) or of a haematoma, synovectomy, joint reconstruction, or joint replacement. From: arthrotomy in Concise Medical Dictionary »

What Is The Difference Between Arthroscopy And Arthrotomy?

Hence, arthrotomy is when a surgeon cuts open a joint and looks inside with their naked eye. Conversely, arthroscopy is when a small incision (about 3-5 mm) is made and a camera (scope) is inserted into the joint and the image is projected onto a screen (“arthro” means joint and “scopy” means using a scope).

What Is The Difference Between Arthroplasty And Arthrotomy?

An arthrotomy refers to an incision into a joint, for inspection and surgical attention, for example removal of inflamed tissue. Arthroplasty refers to removal of part or all of a joint.

Is An Arthrotomy An Open Procedure?

If the loose body is caused by benign tumor of the synovial membrane, a procedure called partial synovectomy may be done. It involves removal of part of the synovium. Arthrotomy is a surgical procedure that employs an open technique in which incisions are made into the joint and the loose body is removed.

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