Knee arthroscopy is a surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat knee problems.
Through the use of an arthroscope – a small fiber-optic camera – the orthopedic surgeon is able to transmit images from inside the knee joint onto a high-definition monitor for better visualization. In cases where surgical repair is needed, it can often be done during arthroscopy. During arthroscopy, a series of small incisions are made to accommodate slender surgical instruments rather than the large incision required for an open procedure.
Reasons for Knee Arthroscopy
Arthroscopy is used as a diagnostic tool in cases where x-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), bone scan, CT scan and other imaging tests have failed to reveal a cause of pain.
Knee arthroscopy is commonly used to diagnosis and treat knee pain that has not responded to non-surgical therapies such as rest, physical therapy, medications and joint injections.
Arthroscopy may be used in the treatment of the following knee problems:
- Cartilage tears or damage
- Ligament injuries & tears
- Removal of bone or cartilage fragments
- Synovial tissue removal
- Inflammation or infection (sepsis) in the joint or joint linings
- Issues of the patella (kneecap)
Knee Arthroscopy Procedure
The procedure can be done under general, regional or local anesthesia. Your doctor will discuss anesthesia options and help select the best option for you.
After positioning, cleaning, and draping the injured knee, a series of small incisions will be made around the joint to allow access for the arthroscope and surgical instruments.
Many knee conditions can be treated arthroscopically as soon as the problem is visualized. Typically, arthroscopic knee procedures take around one hour, but this time could vary depending on the extent of damage and complexity of the repair.
At the end of the knee arthroscopy, the incisions are closed with sutures or steri-strips and a soft bandage wrap is applied. This bandage should be left in place until removed by your health care provider.
Most patients can go home the same day, but activity is limited. Your doctor will advise you to rest with the leg elevated for several days. Crutches should be used until it is safe to resume weight bearing.
Intermittent ice packs help to reduce swelling and medication may be prescribed for pain and to reduce the risk of blood clots.
Exercise is an important part of recovery after knee arthroscopy and can strengthen support muscles,improve range of motion and prevent scar tissue build-up. Physical therapy and rehabilitation may be ordered to ensure your exercise program is safe and steady.