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What is Exploratory Arthroscopy with Biopsy or Fragment Retrieval?

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure which diagnoses and treats joint conditions in domestic animals. Arthroscopy can be therapeutic for some joint conditions. However, exploratory arthroscopy is used to visualize joint problems, take tissue samples for biopsy, and remove bone fragments. This is achieved using a tool called an arthroscope. An arthroscope has a small camera attached to the end, allowing the surgeon to take photos for diagnostic purposes. Forceps are used to take tissue samples or remove fragments of bone. A specialized arthroscopic shaver may be used for reducing abnormal or enlarged tissues, if present. Exploratory arthroscopy can be performed on almost any joint in the body.

Exploratory Arthroscopy with Biopsy or Fragment Retrieval Procedure in Cats

Although exploratory arthroscopy is not as invasive as other joint surgeries, it still requires the cat to undergo anesthesia. The procedure steps will vary based on the individual cat’s needs. The general steps for exploratory arthroscopy are outlined below.

  1. Prior to surgery, the cat will need to be evaluated for anesthetization. Blood work and other tests may be conducted to ensure it is safe for the cat to be anesthetized.
  2. The cat will be anesthetized using a short-acting anesthesia. The operative area will be shaved, cleaned, and draped.
  3. The surgeon will make the initial incision into the skin.
  4. The site will be lavaged, or flushed, using a sterile saline solution to maximize joint visibility.
  5. Using an arthroscope, the surgeon will then take as many images as required for the diagnosis.
  6. Once all images have been taken, the surgeon will retrieve tissue samples or remove bone fragments using forceps. Tissue samples will be sent to a veterinary pathologist for examination. Bone fragments may also be submitted for examination.
  7. If abnormal tissues are present, an arthroscopic shaver will be used to reduce them to normal size.
  8. The surgeon will make sure all fragments have been removed before closing the surgical site.
  9. The cat will usually be allowed to go home shortly after surgery.
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Efficacy of Exploratory Arthroscopy with Biopsy or Fragment Retrieval in Cats

Exploratory surgeries are generally considered very effective for diagnosing underlying conditions since they allows the surgeon to visualize the affected area. Exploratory arthroscopy in particular is considered effective since it is safer and less invasive than open surgery. Although anesthetization is a concern for some pet owners, the anesthesia used for exploratory arthroscopy is short-acting. Cats tend to recover quickly from this procedure, and do not usually experience any pain or complications. The risk of swelling, tissue damage, and infection following exploratory arthroscopy are very low.

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Exploratory Arthroscopy with Biopsy or Fragment Retrieval Recovery in Cats

The cat may or may not need to rest during the recovery period depending on the underlying condition. An Elizabethan collar and/or bandage may be required following surgery to ensure the cat does not irritate the surgery site. The bandage should be kept clean and dry at all times. Owners should check the surgical site each day to make sure no swelling, drainage, or bleeding has occurred. A follow-up appointment will take place within ten to fourteen days to remove non-absorbable sutures. Owners should follow their surgeon’s postoperative care instructions. Additional follow-up appointments may be required to administer treatment for the underlying condition and review test results from biopsy or bone examination.

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Cost of Exploratory Arthroscopy with Biopsy or Fragment Retrieval in Cats

The cost of exploratory arthroscopy with biopsy or fragment retrieval will vary based on standards of living and additional costs incurred. The average cost of exploratory arthroscopy typically ranges from $2,500 to $4,000.

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Cat Exploratory Arthroscopy with Biopsy or Fragment Retrieval Considerations

Compared to other types of exploratory surgery, exploratory arthroscopy is considered a safe procedure with minimal risk. However, although rare, complications are possible. These may include swelling or infection of the surgical site and partial removal of the bone fragments. Swelling and infection are rare with joint surgeries. Swelling typically resolves on its own. However, should the owner notice any swelling or infection, they should contact their veterinarian right away.

Partial removal of the bone fragment(s) can exacerbate the cat’s condition and cause pain. An additional exploratory arthroscopy may be required to rectify this. However, a more invasive procedure may be required if arthroscopy does not provide adequate visualization or access to the remaining bone fragments.

It should be noted that exploratory arthroscopy is used less commonly in cats than large dogs. This is because the spaces between a cat’s joints are much smaller and harder to navigate. Exploratory arthroscopy must be performed by a veterinary specialist, since the required equipment may not be widely available at standard veterinary practices.

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Exploratory Arthroscopy with Biopsy or Fragment Retrieval Prevention in Cats

Congenital joint defects, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, cannot be prevented. Cats with congenital joint defects should not be bred. Other conditions, particularly degenerative joint disease, occur as a result of the aging process. Owners should ensure their cats avoid situations which may cause traumatic joint injury.

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Exploratory Arthroscopy with Biopsy or Fragment Retrieval Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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