5 things you need to know about knee arthroscopy. Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Kostas Tsitskaris on this common procedure for treating knee joint problems

1. What is knee arthroscopy
Knee arthroscopy is a surgical technique that uses a minimally invasive (keyhole) approach to diagnose and treat problems in the knee joint. A special camera, called an arthroscope, allows the surgeon to reliably inspect the knee joint and, with specialist instruments, perform a number of different treatments.

2. What treatments can be performed using knee arthroscopy
There are several treatments that can be performed using knee arthroscopy. Some of the commonest are those that address tears of the meniscus, such as meniscal repair or partial meniscectomy, or injuries of the cartilage, such as microfracture or chondroplasty. Knee arthroscopy can also be employed to provide access during ligament reconstructions, such as for the anterior cruciate ligament, or to help remove a loose body (usually a piece of cartilage from a previous injury). Your surgeon will use specialist instruments to perform the required treatment through this keyhole approach, having first confirmed the diagnosis by thoroughly examining the joint using the arthroscope.

3. Who should have a knee arthroscopy
A patient who is symptomatic with a condition that can be treated arthroscopically and has tried an appropriate course of non-operative management, is a suitable candidate for knee arthroscopy. Before discussing the option of knee arthroscopy, the surgeon will have thoroughly assessed the presenting condition and will almost certainly have acquired specialist investigations, such as an MRI scan. Alternatives to surgery, benefits and risks of the surgical treatment, and the specific details of the planned intervention will be clarified before embarking on the surgical management of the condition.

4. What is the recovery like
The vast majority of treatments using knee arthroscopy can be undertaken as a “day-case” and the patient can expect to be able to mobilise, possibly with crutches, immediately after the procedure. On some occasions, there may be a requirement to “off-load” the operated limb or use a knee brace, such as in cases of meniscal repair or microfracture. The vast majority of patients should expect to return to their daily activities within two to six weeks, but on occasions the recovery may be lengthier, such as in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, when six to nine months may be necessary before the patient can return to sports. Your surgeon will inform you about the recovery time and also the type of physiotherapy you may need.

5. What is a “knee washout”?
“Knee washouts” were interventions that utilized knee arthroscopy in the treatment of established knee osteoarthritis and were the reason why knee arthroscopy has received negative press over the last few years. The British Association for Surgery of the Knee (BASK) has developed an evidence-based guideline and knee arthroscopy is currently not indicated for most of these patients.

Mr Tsitskaris has clinics at The Holly Private Hospital on Monday evenings and Wednesday mornings. Call 020 8505 3311 to make an appointment

Date: 12/03/2020