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Knee Arthroscopy

If you have very early arthritis or a tear of the meniscus, or “shock absorber” cartilage between the bones, you may be a good candidate for a knee “scope”, or arthroscopy.

Reasons to consider a knee arthroscopy.

Knee arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure in which a joint is viewed using a small camera. Arthroscopy gives doctors a clear view of the inside of the knee. This helps them diagnose and treat knee problems.

Arthroscopy for the knee is most commonly used for:

  • Removal or repair of torn meniscal cartilage
  • Trimming of torn pieces of articular cartilage
  • Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage
  • Removal of inflamed synovial tissue

If you’re experiencing knee pain, your doctor might have already diagnosed the condition causing your pain, or they may order the arthroscopy to help find a diagnosis. In either case, an arthroscopy is a useful way for doctors to confirm the source of knee pain.

If you’re experiencing knee pain, your doctor might have already diagnosed the condition causing your pain, or they may order the arthroscopy to help find a diagnosis. In either case, an arthroscopy is a useful way for doctors to confirm the source of knee pain.

As with any surgery, there are risks; however, knee arthroscopy surgery is not very invasive. For most people, the procedure takes less than an hour depending on the specific procedure. You will likely go home on the same day for recovery. Check with your surgeon to determine if this is the right surgery for you.

Approximately 15-45 minutes. Surgery time may vary slightly based on the complexity of your injury and any additional procedures required.

Knee arthroscopy is when a small camera is inserted into the knee in order to visualize the structures inside the knee joint and assess any damage that may be present. The knee is inflated with fluid during the procedure.

  •  The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that is located between the bones of your knee. It functions as a cushion or shock-absorber.
  •  Each knee has a medial (inside of the knee) and a lateral (outside of the knee) meniscus.
  •  In cases where the meniscus is damaged, an assessment of the tear is performed before deciding how a meniscus tear will be treated.
  •  Depending on the specifics of the tear, a decision is made whether to perform a ‘repair’ or ‘removal’ procedure.
  •  In a ‘repair’ procedure, stitches are used to sew the torn meniscus back together.
  •  In a ‘removal’ procedure, the torn portion of the meniscus is removed.

No. Knee arthroscopy is performed as an outpatient surgery. You will arrive approximately 1.5 – 2 hours prior to your procedure. Typically, you will be able to return home about two hours after your surgery is over. Please ensure someone comes with you to surgery who will be available to drive you home. If you are a minor, your parent / legal guardian must be present on the day of your surgery.

Yes. Every medical procedure has certain risks. Some risks are present with any surgery, including those associated with anesthesia (heart attack, stroke, respiratory distress, or failure), and some are more specific to the procedure being performed. Risks of knee arthroscopy include, but may not be limited to: infection, damage to blood vessels or nerves (causing numbness, tingling, burning, or weakness), blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolus), stiffness of the knee (which can require additional surgery in some cases), iatrogenic injury (injury to structures caused by surgery), scarring, and residual pain or discomfort.

There is also the possibility that a meniscus repair may not fully heal. This risk varies depending on a number of factors. It is possible that additional surgery may be recommended/needed in the future if the meniscus doesn’t heal as anticipated.

It is also possible for a meniscus that has had a partial removal to sustain a new tear in the future, or that the pain may not be completely improved by surgery.

Having a meniscus injury can increase your risk of developing arthritis in the injured knee down the road.

Some complications after surgery are uncommon and can’t be predicted in advance.

Usually, yes. Crutches are typically used for protection for a short time after surgery. Most patients are off crutches at or around the time of the first follow-up visit after surgery (2 weeks), but some may still require them at that time. Don’t worry if you need crutches longer than 2 weeks- remember that everyone’s recovery is different.

In some cases, if a more extensive meniscus repair is done on the knee, crutches may be recommended for 6 weeks after surgery, with weight-bearing limited to resting your foot on the ground (called toe-touch weight-bearing).

In most cases, yes. This can depend on the age and activity level of the patient and the specific sports they are trying to return to.

  • Certainly, the goal of meniscus surgery is to restore the function of your knee to a point that you are able to participate in any activities you would like. However, in some cases; pain, stiffness, residual mechanical symptoms, nervousness about reinjury, or other factors can prevent the return to some activities.

It is possible. The goal of the surgery is to allow the best function of the knee going forward. However, this does not change the fact that the knee may have already sustained some damage, either from an injury or as a result of normal wear-and-tear.