Is Knee Arthroscopy for You?

 
Is Knee Arthroscopy for You

Thomas Connolly, M.D. 
Boys Town Orthopaedics

The knee is one of the largest joints in the body. It allows you to walk, run, jump, bend, push, lift…basically your knee joint allows you to be mobile. Because it aids in so many functions, the knee also has one of the greatest chances of suffering an injury.

Knee arthroscopy is a common and less invasive procedure that can diagnose and often correct knee injuries that otherwise may have required open knee surgery with longer immobility and recovery time.

“Arthro,” means joint and “Scopy,” means visual or view. Arthroscopy is a procedure where a small camera is surgically inserted by the large joint. The camera projects images onto a monitor where the surgeon can determine the cause of discomfort. The entire procedure takes about 45 minutes and patients are able to return home the same day.

Knee Arthroscopy is used to diagnose:

  • Torn meniscus and ligaments
  • Inflammation or swelling
  • Floating cartilage
  • Arthritis
  • Bone spurs

Knee Arthroscopy can treat disorders such as:

  • Meniscal, ligament and tendon tears
  • Baker’s Cysts (drainage of fluid behind the knee)
  • Loose bone or cartilage
  • Other knee problems

About the Surgery

Most patients are given a medication to help them relax, and then given a local or spinal anesthetic. This will numb the area but will not put the patient to sleep. Some patients, especially younger patients, may need or choose a general anesthesia, which will make them unconscious for the duration of the surgery.

Once in the operating room, your orthopaedic surgeon will make two to three small cuts around the knee area and fill with a saline solution. Your surgeon will then insert the arthroscope (a small tube with a very tiny camera and light attached at the end) to examine the entire knee area. Your surgeon will then either repair or extract the joint problem or determine an alternate course of treatment. After the procedure, your surgeon will drain your knee of the saline fluid and stitch the incisions.

Once home, it is recommended that you ice the area for the first 24 hours to help reduce swelling and pain. You physician may also prescribe some anti-inflammatory medications. Your physician will let you know when you should begin exercising the knee so you will not lose existing strength or range of motion.

When to Contact Your Physician

Even though knee arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure, patients will feel some discomfort and possible swelling for a few days. Contact your physician if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain
  • Unusual drainage, swelling or redness at site
  • Fever or vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling of toes
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath