Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to examine tissues inside the knee. It is often performed to confirm a diagnosis made after a physical examination and other imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan or X-rays. During an arthroscopic procedure, a thin fiberoptic light, magnifying lens and tiny television camera are inserted into the knee, allowing your doctor to examine the joint in great detail.
For some patients, it is then possible to treat the problem using a few additional instruments inserted through small incisions around the joint. Sports injuries are often repairable with arthroscopy. Knee injuries that are frequently treated using arthroscopic techniques include meniscal tears, mild arthritis, loose bone or cartilage, ACL and PCL tears, synovitis (swelling of the joint lining) and patellar (knee cap) misalignment.
Because it is minimally invasive, arthroscopy offers the patient many benefits over traditional surgery. These include:
Knee arthroscopy is quickly becoming the ideal procedure for many conditions affecting the knee. Its minimally invasive advantages allow patients to receive fast and simple pain relief, increased range of motion and restored function, while avoiding or delaying the need for joint replacement surgery.
Despite its many advantages, arthroscopy is not appropriate for every patient. Some patients, especially those with knee problems that are in difficult-to-see areas, may actually benefit more from conventional surgery. Your doctor will discuss the options that are best for you after performing a thorough evaluation of your condition.
Knee arthroscopy is performed on an outpatient basis under local or general anesthesia, depending on the type and severity of the condition, as well as the patient’s personal preference. During the procedure, the surgeon will insert the arthroscope into the knee through a tiny incision. This instrument is used to identify any damage or abnormalities within the knee, or to confirm the diagnosis of a previous imaging exam.
If damaged areas are detected, they can be repaired during the same procedure by inserting surgical instruments into additional incisions. Knee arthroscopy may include removing torn cartilage, reconstructing torn ligaments, trimming cartilage, removing loose bone or removing other inflamed tissue. Once the repair has been completed, the incisions will be sutured closed and then covered with a bandage.
After the knee arthroscopy procedure, patients often experience swelling and pain for several days. These symptoms can be controlled by elevating the leg, applying ice and taking pain medication. Patients are encouraged to get up and walk around as soon as possible after this procedure, although crutches or a cane may be needed for some time.
Most patients can return to work within a week after the procedure, but will need to undergo physical therapy in order to restore full movement and function to the joint. Physical therapy includes a variety of stretching exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the leg and knee. An exercise program will be tailored to your individual condition. The length of the program may vary depending on each patient’s individual condition. Most patients can resume light physical activities after a few weeks, with full recovery from knee arthroscopy taking 12 weeks or longer.
While knee arthroscopy is considered safe for most patients, there are certain risks associated with any surgical procedure. Some of these risks may include:
These risks are considered rare and can be further reduced by choosing an experienced surgeon to perform your procedure.
To learn more about knee arthroscopy and to find out if this procedure is right for you, please call us today to schedule a consultation.