Knee arthroscopy

What is an arthroscopy of the knee?

An arthroscopy is also referred to as keyhole surgery and allows your surgeon to take a look inside your knee. A camera is inserted through small cuts in the skin which enables your surgeon to diagnose problems. These include ligament damage, arthritis and a torn cartilage.

Why have this surgery?

Benefits include your surgeon being able to see and confirm the cause of the problem inside your knee and in many cases being able to treat the problem at the same time.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

An MRI scan can often be used to diagnose the problem; however, an arthroscopy may still be necessary to treat the problem inside the knee.

What exactly does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are available for the operation, which generally takes half an hour to three-quarters of an hour.

During the procedure your surgeon will examine the inside of your knee and wash out any loose material caused by worn joint surfaces. In most cases your surgeon is also able to repair or trim a torn cartilage without making a larger cut to the skin.

What about complications?

Complications – general

  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Pain
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Blood clots

Complications – specific

  • Infection in the knee joint
  • Developing a lump under the wound
  • Damage to nerves around the knee
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the knee (complex regional pain syndrome)

How quick is recovery?

In most cases, you should be able to go home the same day as the operation.  Walking can be uncomfortable and it is common for the knee to be a little swollen for a few weeks.

Undertaking regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities quickly but do consult your GP or healthcare professional for advice before you start exercising.

Most people make a good recovery and can return to normal activities.

Summary of an arthroscopy

In summary, the diagnosis and treatment of certain knee problems are possible with an arthroscopy without the need for a large cut in the skin. It may also reduce the amount of pain experienced and speed up recovery post-surgery.

Acknowledgements: EIDO Healthcare Limited

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