If you have your operation at Spire Hospital, Harpenden, you may request photographs or a DVD recording of the procedure.


Arthroscopy is surgery performed using the “keyhole” or “minimally invasive” technique. Orthopaedic surgeons use the technique to examine closely and repair defects in almost any of the larger joints of the body.  The surgeon makes 2-3 “portals” (small holes around 0.5cm) and introduces a small scope with an attached camera and fibre optic light source through one portal and specially designed instruments through the other portal(s). The surgeon operates with reference to the images filmed by the camera which are relayed to an adjacent screen.

Andrew Irwin Surgery 1

Advice for Shoulder Surgery Procedures

During shoulder surgery, a nerve block is often used so that after the operation the shoulder and arm may feel numb for a few hours. After this, the shoulder may be sore and you will be given painkillers to help whilst in hospital. These can be continued after you are discharged home. Ice packs may also help reduce pain. Wrap frozen peas or crushed ice in a damp, cold cloth and place on the shoulder for up to 15 minutes. In order to maintain a dry wound cover the dressing / wound with some cling film before applying the ice pack.

I perform most shoulder procedures arthroscopically (by keyhole technique), usually through 2-3 puncture wounds. There will be no stitches only small sticking plaster strips over the wounds. These should be kept dry until healed –  usually 5-7 days.

Andrew Irwin Surgery 2

You will return from theatre wearing a sling which is for comfort only and should be discarded as soon as possible or within 2-4 days. Some people find it helpful to continue to wear the sling at night for a little longer if the shoulder feels tender.

Sleeping can be uncomfortable for a while if you try and lie on the operated arm. We recommend that you lie on your back or on the opposite side. Ordinary pillows can be used to give you comfort and support.

Some degree of discomfort is common after surgery. You will be given painkillers and anti-inflammatories from the hospital when you are discharged.  Before discharge you will also be seen by a physiotherapist at the hospital who will advise on getting your shoulder going again and early exercises.   With any surgical procedure, let pain be your guide. If whatever you are doing hurts (eg exercises or returning to sport), then STOP, rest and only then start again, more slowly.

In the unlikely event of your wound changing in appearance or you feeling unwell with a raised temperature, you should contact the ward at the hospital where you had your operation.