Knee Arthroscopy

What is knee arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy is a ‘keyhole’ operation, which is used to assess and treat different problems occurring within the knee. It uses a digital camera with a light attached to a narrow scope, which is placed inside the knee through small ‘keyhole’ incisions. The camera allows the main areas of the knee to be assessed as well as treated including the meniscus (cartilage ring / shock absorber), cartilage (bearing surfaces of the knee) and knee ligaments.

What conditions can it treat?

Knee arthroscopy can be used to treat a number of conditions affecting the knee joint. This includes tears to the meniscus which can be trimmed or if large repaired. Damage to the cartilage-bearing surface can be smoothed off (chondroplasty) or have small holes fashioned (micro-fracture) to repair the cartilage. Arthroscopy can also be undertaken to remove loose bodies floating in the knee, as well as taking tissue samples for further analysis. It is also used to assist more complex procedures such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and patella stabilisation procedures.

How is it done?

Knee arthroscopy is performed as a day case surgery. This means you will come in and return home on the same day. The anaesthetist will see you to discuss about general anaesthetic. In theatre a tourniquet is placed at the top of your thigh to prevent bleeding. Your leg is supported to allow movement during the operation, before being cleaned to reduce the chance of infection. Two or more keyhole incisions are made at the front of the knee to look inside with the camera, and allow access for a probe and instruments to treat the different parts of the knee. The keyhole incisions are closed with small strips of tape, before a dressing and bandage is applied.

What happens after I wake up?

After your surgery Mr. Boyce Cam will explain the procedure to you and show pictures of your knee taken during the surgery. When back on the ward you will be mobilised and when safe, discharged home with painkillers.

How long does it take to recover?

The wound heals by about 10 days and the dressing should be kept dry until this time. Unless otherwise specified, walk and use your knee as comfort allows. Undertake any knee exercises as advised. When the knee is feeling comfortable return to your normal activities as pain allows. This may take 6-12 weeks.

Are there any risks or complications I should be aware of?

Knee arthroscopy is a minor surgical procedure and so therefore the risks are low. There is however a small risk of developing infection in the knee, bleeding, knee stiffness, damage of the small nerves around the knee and residual pain after the operation. The risk of developing leg clots or more life threatening conditions is very rare. This will be discussed with you during your appointment.