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Knee Arthroscopy

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Why would I need knee arthroscopy surgery?

Most people who require knee arthroscopy surgery usually have knee pain caused by swelling, stiffness, a sports injury, meniscal tears or joint damage caused by osteoarthritis.

Knee arthroscopy surgery can be used to diagnose the cause of knee pain, swelling or joint instability. It can also be used to treat the cause at the same time. For example, during a knee arthroscopy, surgeons can diagnose and treat knee problems caused by damaged or loose cartilage, torn cartilage, loose fragments of bone, inflammation or excess fluid.

What symptoms does knee arthroscopy surgery address?

Often, people requiring knee arthroscopy surgery have persistent pain, swelling or stiffness in their knee joint that has not responded to conservative/non-surgical treatment (such as rest, analgesia, injections or physiotherapy). If a scan has shown treatable pathology in the knee, then a knee arthroscopy can be considered.

Knee arthroscopy surgery aims to relieve this pain and discomfort and improve quality of life.

When should you speak to your specialist about knee arthroscopy surgery?

If you’ve sustained an injury to your knee, for example whilst playing sports, or you have pain, swelling, stiffness or discomfort in your knee that won’t go away, speak to your specialist. They may suggest a combination of tests and treatments, including knee arthroscopy surgery.

How is knee arthroscopy surgery performed?

Knee arthroscopy surgery is performed as keyhole surgery. Your surgeon will use a long, thin surgical instrument with a camera attached to the end called an arthroscope to look inside your knee. The camera displays pictures on a video monitor, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments. Because the surgical instruments and arthroscope are thin, your surgeon can use very small surgical incisions to insert other surgical probes or instruments if necessary, to remove loose cartilage or bone, drain excess fluid or repair/remove any damaged tissue.

It is necessary to expand the knee joint by filling it with a sterile fluid to get a better view. This fluid is drained away afterwards.

The whole procedure usually takes around half an hour and is carried out under a general anaesthetic. The surgical incisions will be stitched and your whole knee bandaged.

What is the recovery like for knee arthroscopy surgery?

Your recovery from knee arthroscopy surgery will depend on multiple factors, including your age, fitness level and the nature of your procedure. Patients having this procedure usually go home the same day but you may need one night in hospital. You may be given crutches and your physiotherapy team and nursing team will ensure you can walk with the aid of your crutches before you leave hospital.

Generally, your stitches will dissolve or will need to be removed after two weeks. Depending on your treatment, you will need one or two weeks off work and resting from your usual activities. You will be given specific advice on how to care for your knee in the days and weeks following your procedure.

  • Pain management
  • Swelling – use of ice therapy and elevation
  • Physiotherapy – your surgeon and physiotherapist will set you a recovery programme to follow
  • Driving – Your surgeon will discuss with you when you may drive. Typically patients are able to drive 1 – 3 weeks after the procedure

Are there any risks/complications associated with knee arthroscopy surgery?

As with any medical procedure, it’s possible for risks or complications to arise. Speaking with your specialist or surgeon beforehand will help you avoid any adverse reactions.

Knee arthroscopy surgery has a relatively low risk of serious complications, but the following risks and complications can occur in a small number of cases:

  • An infection in the surgical wound
  • Bleeding inside the knee joint
  • A blood clot called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Nerve damage
  • Stiffness
  • Recurrence of symptoms

How can I prepare for knee arthroscopy surgery?

Prior to knee arthroscopy surgery, your surgeon will discuss with you how best to prepare for surgery, as each patient is different.

Common preparations for knee arthroscopy surgery include:

  • Routine blood tests, x rays or scans as requested by your surgeon
  • Taking steps to stop smoking if you smoke
  • Losing weight if you’re overweight
  • Remaining active and doing regular exercise

Are there alternatives for knee arthroscopy surgery?

Your specialist should be able to diagnose the cause of your knee problem using the results of an x ray or MRI scan.

Some knee problems can be managed with pain relief medications and physiotherapy.

Call 020 7467 4344 or fill in your details below to make an enquiry
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