Knee arthroscopy

What is a knee arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy is better known as 'keyhole surgery' and allows your surgeon to look inside your knee joint through a camera inserted through a small cut in the skin. This allows a diagnosis of any problems, probably cartilage related, and treatment using special designed surgical instruments - often at the same time.

What does arthroscopy of the knee involve?

Knee arthroscopy surgery is usually done as a day case done under general anaesthetic and takes around twenty minutes.

Your leg will be strapped down on the operating table your surgeon will make two small cuts in your skin around the knee joint. The first is used to pump sterile fluid into the joint and the second for the arthroscope to be introduced. An arthroscope is a small flexible tube about the length and width of a drinking straw which contains a light source and a digital camera that sends images to a video screen or your Surgeon's eyepiece.

If treatment is required, such as trimming a cartilage, then another cut in the skin is made which will allow specially designed instruments to be introduced into the joint to do any necessary work.

The fluid is drained out and the cuts are closed with stitches or adhesive strips. A dressing or bandage is wrapped around the knee.

Knee arthroscopy recovery time

As you are admitted as a day case, you would normally be able to go home on the same day. Your Physiotherapist may give you some exercises to help you get back to normal living and you may need to take a week off work and driving.

What are the risks of knee arthroscopy?

Knee Arthroscopy is an extremely safe procedure but there is always a small risk of complications which can include:

  • Damage to nerves around the knee leading to some weakness, numbness or pain in the leg or foot. This usually settles on its own but may be permanent.
  • Developing a lump under the wound after surgery. This is caused by a small amount of bleeding under the skin and usually settles after a few weeks.
  • Infection in the joint which may need treatment.

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