Arthroscopy is when a tiny camera is inserted into a cut into the skin and used to do repair and examine tissues and joints in the body. It may sound strange to have a camera put inside your body, but it’s actually an amazing way to allow the surgeon to look inside the body without a huge incision (cut). For shoulder injuries, this is an ideal procedure for many patients. If it’s been recommended for you, you may be wondering how to prepare and how much the surgery costs. 

The CPT code is Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is 29826.

Why is shoulder arthroscopic surgery needed?

Shoulders have a rotator cuff that has a group of muscles. Together, tendons and muscles work to hold the arm inside the joint, and help the shoulder move in different directions. The tendons that are in the rotator cuff can be torn due to injury or overuse and can cause pain, swelling, or stiffness. If you have tried physical therapy and the issue hasn’t resolved, your doctor may recommend shoulder arthroscopic surgery. Physicians can bill for arthroscopic shoulder surgery using the CPT code 29826. 

This type of surgery repairs torn tendons, damaged cartilage (cartilage is the tissue between joints), and improve your ability to move your shoulder. It can treat a condition called “frozen shoulder”, which is when the capsule around the shoulder joint becomes tight and thickened. It causes pain and stiffness and usually happens when a shoulder is injured or has been in one place for a long time (such as after surgery or a fracture). Arthroscopic shoulder surgery can also be done for patients who have arthritis, in order to help their pain and movement level.

How is shoulder surgery performed?

You will be given general anesthesia for shoulder surgery, or regional anesthesia (where your arm and shoulder would be numbed. This is also called a nerve block), so that you will be asleep during the surgery and not feel pain. If you receive regional anesthesia, you will be given a sedative so you feel sleepy during the procedure. 

During your actual shoulder surgery, the surgeon will insert the arthroscope into the shoulder through a small incision, about the size of a buttonhole. The scope will be connected to a video monitor so that the surgeon can see the tissues, bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons of the shoulder. The surgeon will then repair the damaged area, which may require 1-2 more tiny incisions, depending on the position of the damaged tissues.

Here are some specific things your surgeon may do:

Rotator Cuff Repair:

In this procedure, the edges of the tendons in the shoulder are brought together, and attached to the bone with stitches. Tendons are then attached to the bones using suture anchors. These anchors remain in the body after surgery and are usually made of plastic or metal. 

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome:

The damaged tissue is cleaned and removed above the shoulder joint. A ligament may be cut, and the lower side of the bone (called the acromion) is removed. Typically, a growth called a “bone spur” is causing the impingement and will be removed. 

Shoulder surgery for instability:

This type of shoulder surgery( shoulder arthroscopy ) is done when the labrum is torn. The labrum is a cartilage that lines the outer edge of the shoulder joint. Ligaments that are part of this area will also be repaired. 

After the surgery is over, the incision or incisions will be closed with stitches and will be covered with a bandage. Many surgeons will show you images after you are conscious and awake, in order to show you the places that were damaged and the repairs that were made. In some cases, the surgeon will need to perform “open surgery”, with a much larger incision so they can repair major damage. If your surgeon decides on this type of surgery, you will have a slightly longer recovery time and will be admitted to the hospital for 1-2 days. 

What happens after the surgery?

If you have arthroscopic surgery, you will have relatively small incisions and will recover much faster. Having arthroscopic surgery also reduces your risk of infection, can make your recovery faster and can be less painful than an open approach. 

You will then recover after the surgery for 1-2 hours in a recovery room, where you will be monitored and given pain medication. You should plan for someone to drive you home after the surgery and to rest. It can take weeks to months to fully recover, and you should check with your provider to find out about physical therapy or other recovery exercises you can begin when it’s safe to do so. 

How much does Shoulder Arthroscopy & Shoulder Surgery Cost?

The cost of a shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder surgery can range from approximately $3,900 to $31,000. This is a very wide range that depends on if you have insurance, and where you have your procedure done. An outpatient surgery center will be much less expensive than a hospital and will be closer to $16,000. Patients who are cash pay can sometimes negotiate a cost that is closer to $10,000. With insurance, you may pay between $3,900 and $8,000.

There are many factors that go into this cost, including the provider, your geographical location, and the type of anesthesia. It is important to consult with your physician so you understand the full cost associated with your surgery, including medications, physical therapy, and follow-up visits. 

Different patients can all have different outcomes because there are so many things that go into recovery. If you have an uncomplicated surgery, you may need less time to recover, and if you had extensive damage, recovery may take several months. Following your surgeon’s guidelines will help you recover and regain as much of your shoulder movement as possible. 

On ZeaMed, you can search for a provider and location that fits your budget and needs. You can trust that our shoulder arthroscopy providers are trusted and qualified, and you can see the prices before you commit to having surgery. It gives you back control over your healthcare and helps you feel confident knowing that you are receiving the best care possible. Check us out today at to get started. 


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