Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that gives your orthopaedic surgeon a clear view of the inside of a joint. This helps them diagnose and treat joint problems.
During knee arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your knee joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.
Knee arthroscopy has been performed for many years, but is not as common as hip or shoulder arthroscopy.
When Knee Arthroscopy is Recommended
Your doctor may recommend knee arthroscopy if you have a painful condition that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Nonsurgical treatment includes rest, physical therapy, and medications or injections that can reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is one of your body’s normal reactions to injury or disease. In an injured or diseased knee joint, inflammation causes swelling, pain, and stiffness.
Knee arthroscopy may relieve painful symptoms of many problems that damage the labrum, articular cartilage, or other soft tissues surrounding the joint.
Knee Arthroscopy is commonly used for:
- Removal or repair of torn meniscal cartilage
- Reconstruction of a torn anterior cruciate ligament
- Trimming of torn pieces of articular cartilage
- Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage
- Removal of inflamed synovial tissue
Your surgeon’s first task is to properly diagnose your problem. He or she will insert the arthroscope and use the image projected on the screen to guide the procedure. If surgical treatment is needed, your surgeon will insert tiny instruments through another small incision. These instruments might be scissors, motorized shavers, or lasers.
This part of the procedure usually lasts 30 minutes to over an hour. How long it takes depends upon the findings and the treatment necessary.
Your surgeon may close your incisions with a stitch, staples or steri-strips (small bandaids) and cover them with a soft bandage.
You will be moved to the recovery room and should be able to go home within 1 or 2 hours. Be sure to have someone with you to drive you home.
The length of the procedure will depend on what your surgeon finds and the amount of work to be done.