Knee Arthroscopy

Knee Arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure performed using an arthroscope, a viewing instrument, to diagnose or treat a knee problem. It is a minimally invasive safe outpatient procedure that often has little down time and a relatively rapid return to activity.

Indications for Knee arthroscopy

The knee joint is vulnerable to a variety of injuries. The most common knee problems where knee arthroscopy may be recommended for diagnosis and treatment are:

  • Torn meniscus
  • Torn or damaged cruciate ligament
  • Torn pieces of articular cartilage
  • Inflamed synovial tissue
  • Misalignment of patella
  • Baker’s cyst: a fluid filled cyst that develops at the back of the knee due to the accumulation of synovial fluid. It commonly occurs with knee conditions such as meniscal tear, knee arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Procedure

Knee arthroscopy is performed under spinal or general anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will decide the best method for you depending on your age and health condition.

  • The surgeon makes two or three small incisions around the knee.
  • Next, a sterile saline solution is injected into the knee to provide a clear view to work on the damaged tissue.
  • An arthroscope is inserted through one of the incisions to view the knee joint.  The structures inside the knee are visible to the surgeon on a video monitor in the operating room.
  • The surgeon first examines the structures inside the knee joint to assess the cause of the problem.
  • Once a diagnosis is made, surgical instruments such as scissors, motorized shavers, or electrocautery are inserted through another small incision, and the treatment is performed based on the diagnosis.

The repair procedure may include any of the following:

  • Removal or repair of a torn meniscus
  • Reconstruction or repair of a torn cruciate ligament
  • Removal of small torn pieces of articular cartilage
  • Removal of loose fragments of bones
  • Removal of inflamed synovial tissue
  • Decompression of baker’s cyst
  • Realignment of the patella
  • Making small holes or microfractures near the damaged cartilage to stimulate cartilage growth

After the Surgery

Patients are discharged the same day after knee arthroscopy.  Recovery after the surgery depends on the type of repair procedure performed.  Recovery from simple procedures is often relatively rapid. However, recovery from complicated procedures takes a little longer.  Recovery from knee arthroscopy is often significantly faster than from an open knee surgery.

Pain medicines are prescribed to manage pain.  Crutches or a knee brace may be recommended for several weeks.  A rehabilitation program may also be advised for a successful recovery. Therapeutic exercises aim to restore motion and strengthen the muscles of the leg and knee.