Arthroscopy in rheumatology: where have we been? Where might we go?

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The aim of our manuscript is to illustrate the past, present and future role of rheumatologists performing arthroscopy. Doctors first began adapting endoscopes to inspect joints to assess synovial conditions that concern rheumatologists. Rheumatologists were among the pioneers developing arthroscopy. Students of the father of modern arthroscopy, Watanabe, included rheumatologists, who taught others once home. Rheumatologists assessed the intra-articular features of their common diseases in the 60s and 70s. Improvements in instrumentation and efforts by a few orthopaedists adapted a number of common joint surgical procedures for arthroscopy. Interest from rheumatologists in arthroscopy grew in the 90s with 'needle scopes' used in an office setting. Rheumatologists conducting the first prospective questioning arthroscopic debridement in OA and developing biological compounds reduced the call for arthroscopic interventions. The arthroscope has proven an excellent tool for viewing and sampling synovium, which continues to at several international centres. Some OA features-such as calcinosis-beg further arthroscopic investigation. A new generation of 'needle scopes' with far superior optics awaits future investigators.


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