Evolution Of Arthroscopy


Pioneering Arthroscopic Surgery

The pioneering of arthroscopic surgeries began in the 1920s when a surgeon by the name of Eugen Bircher focused his work on improving surgical procedures and technology. While it is typical for an entire arthroscopic surgery to be done endoscopically today, in the early years arthroscopy was only used for the diagnostic purposes. Looking for more improved visibility than what was available with the electric Jacobaeus thoracolaparoscope, Bircher went on to develop a double-contrast approach which gave surgeons a clearer view during arthroscopy.

At the end World War II, a surgeon in Japan named Masaki Watanabe began experimenting with the use of endoscopic devices to treat his patients. In the early 1950s Watanabe designed some of the first arthroscopes, eventually creating an arthroscope in 1958 that would become the springboard for modern arthroscopic techniques in North America. Years later, Dr. Heshmat Shahriaree began using arthroscopy during experimental surgeries to remove fragments of a damaged meniscus. These two doctors, along with Dr. Bircher, are considered to be the inventors of the first high-quality color intraarticulator photography.


Minimally Invasive Improvements

With the advent of fiber optics in the 1970s and 1980s, arthroscopic surgery moves from open surgery to a more minimally invasive endoscopic surgery requiring 3 incision sites. Improved visibility creates an opportunity for surgeons to view knee joints at multiple angles. Over time, surgeons are able to reduce the number of portals to 2 during arthroscopy.


Single Incision Solution

To improve recovery and make surgery even less invasive for patients, the ParallelPortal System was developed towards the end of 2009. The system allows hardware and instruments to pass through a single incision, providing surgeons with access, visualization, and the necessary instrumentation to perform certain surgical procedures. This new concept of arthroscopic surgery through a single incision was labeled Single Portal Arthroscopy (SPA). Many knee problems including meniscus tears, articular cartilage damage, or a loose body in the knee may all be repaired using SPA, while other cases may require two portal arthroscopy for repairs. The availability of SPA revolutionizes the way surgeons make decisions regarding which arthroscopic techniques will be used during surgery for the most successful results and recovery.

  • Did you know?

    Due to early arthroscopy requiring invasive open surgery, arthroscopy was not commonly practiced until the 1970s.

  • Did you know?

    Introducing fiber optics to arthroscopic procedures improved surgery and recovery, driving arthroscopies from a handful in the 1920s to over 4 million procedures a year.

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