Knee Arthroscopy

Introduction

 An arthroscopy is a type of keyhole surgery used both to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. A knee arthroscopy gives doctors a clear view of the inside of the knee.

The procedure is commonly used on knees, as well as shoulders, ankles and elbows.

Knee arthroscopy can be used to:

  • Repair damaged cartilage and tissue
  • Remove fragments of loose bone, cartilage and tissue
  • Remove inflamed synovial fluid
  • Reconstruct a torn ACL

Symptoms

A knee arthroscopy may be needed if the patient is suffering ongoing knee problems and discomfort.

  • Pain in the knee
  • Wobbliness in the knee
  • Swelling or stiffness of the knee

Investigation

An arthroscopy may be used to look at the inside of the knee joint to help diagnosis. The projected image gives the consultant a clear view of the inside of the knee. Surgical treatment may not be needed once the surgeon has had a look at the interior of the knee joint.

Knee arthroscopy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. 

The surgeon will make a few small incisions in your knee. A sterile solution will be used to fill the knee joint, rinsing away any cloudy fluid. This will make sure that the picture projected onto the television screen is clear and in great detail.

Tiny instruments such as scissors, motorised shavers or lasers will be inserted into other small incisions in the knee to remove or repair tissue and cartilage surrounding the knee joint.

This procedure ranges in time lengths because it depends how long it takes for the surgeon to find out what is wrong and the treatment for each patient will vary.

The small incisions will then be closed with either stitches or steri-strips and covered with a soft bandage.

Recovery from knee arthroscopy is usually fast and the patient should be back doing their daily activities within a couple of weeks.

Following surgery the knee is likely to be swollen and inflamed. It is important to keep the knee elevated as much as possible during the first few days and to apply ice.

It is important to make sure that the incisions remain dry and clean and that the dressing is changed regularly.

The knee will need rest following the surgery and assistance such as crutches may be needed to avoid weigh bearing.

Pain medication will usually be prescribed in order to relieve pain and swelling and to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Once the knee has had sufficient rest, it is vital to exercise and stretch the knee for several weeks following surgery. Physiotherapy will restore the knee’s full range of motion and strengthen the leg muscles.