Arthroscopy is a method of surgery used to view the joint using a small camera. It gives doctors a clear view of the inside of the knee joint. Through the technology of fiber optics, a physician can diagnose and treat knee dysfunction or injury. The treatment typically involves inserting small instrumentation into the knee.
Surgeons perform arthroscopy by inserting an arthroscope into a small incision above the knee joint. The image is sent to a high definition monitor where the surgeon can see the knee joint. The doctor can then use this view to feel, repair or remove damaged tissue. Typically, the portals are made adjacent to the patellar tendon, and occasionally accessory portals are made to access different areas of the knee.
Patients are advised not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery. Before surgery, an anesthesia team will numb the knee and put you to sleep. The surgeon will insert the arthroscope into the in your knee and rinse away any cloudy fluid. After the surgeon has a complete view of the knee joint, they will be able to diagnose the problem and perform surgical treatments. The duration of the surgery depends on the findings and procedures. Possible surgical treatments include meniscal debridement, repair, ACL reconstruction, arthritis treatment and releasing stable patellar structures.
Recovery from knee arthroscopy is faster than recovery from traditional open knee surgery. Upon leaving the hospital, your orthopedic surgeon will issue some rules and instructions for safe recovery. Doctors prescribe medications for short-term pain relief following surgery. Keep the leg elevated during the first few days following surgery and apply ice frequently. Keep your incisions clean and dry. Your surgeon will let you know when you should change the dressing. It’s common to use crutches after arthroscopic surgery. You should exercise your knee regularly following the surgery to regain strength. However, your physician and physical therapist should provide guidelines for this practice.
There are risks associated with knee arthroscopy, but they don’t occur often. Infection, blood clots, and accumulation of blood are all common complications. Patients should contact their orthopedic surgeon if they experience chills, fever, warmth/redness around the knee and increased pain in the knee or calf muscle. It is important to tell your surgeon about any orthopedic or skin infection history. It is also important to tell your doctor about any history or family history of blood clots.