Knee arthroscopy is surgery that is done by making small cuts on your knee and looking inside using a tiny camera. The knee arthroscopic specialists at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital have extensive experience performing knee arthroscopy and often recommend it as a less-invasive alternative to traditional open knee surgery. Trauma to the surgical area is greatly lessened and recovery time can be substantially diminished with arthroscopic knee surgery.
How Knee Arthroscopy is Performed
Three different types of pain relief (anesthesia) may be used for knee arthroscopy surgery:
- Painkilling medicine – Your knee may be numbed with painkilling medicine. You also may be given medicine to help you relax. You will stay awake during your arthroscopic knee surgery.
- Spinal anesthesia – This is also called regional anesthesia. Painkilling medicine is injected into a space in your spine. You will be awake during knee arthroscopy but will not be able to feel anything below your waist.
- General anesthesia – You will be asleep and pain-free during your arthroscopic knee surgery.
A cuff-like device that blows up (inflates) may be used around your thigh to help control bleeding during knee arthroscopy. Your surgeon will make two or three small cuts around your knee, and salt water (saline) will be pumped into your knee to stretch the knee.
A narrow tube with a tiny camera on the end will be placed inside through one of the cuts. The camera is attached to a video monitor in the operating room. The surgeon looks at the monitor to see the inside of your knee. In some operating rooms, patients can also watch the arthroscopic knee surgery on the monitor, if they want to.
The surgeon will look around your knee for problems and will then fix or remove the problem in your knee.
At the end of your arthroscopic knee surgery, the saline will be drained from your knee. The surgeon will close your cuts with sutures (stitches) and cover them with a dressing. Many surgeons take pictures of the procedure from the video monitor so that afterward you can see what was done and what was found.
Recovery from Arthroscopy Knee Surgery
After your knee arthroscopy surgery, you will have a bandage on your knee over the dressing. Most people go home the same day they have arthroscopic knee surgery. Your doctor will give you an exercise program to follow to keep the knee flexible.
Whether or not you have a full recovery after knee arthroscopy depends on what type of problem was treated.
Problems such as a torn meniscus, broken cartilage, Baker’s cyst and problems with the synovium are usually fixed easily with knee arthroscopy. Many patients remain active after these types of arthroscopic knee surgeries.
Recovery from simple knee arthroscopy is usually fast. You may need to use crutches for a while so that you do not put weight on your knee and to control pain. This will depend on what kind of arthroscopic knee surgery you had. Your doctor may also prescribe pain medicine.
Recovering from more complicated knee arthroscopy will take longer. When anything in your knee is repaired or rebuilt during arthroscopic knee surgery, you may not be able to walk without crutches or a knee brace for several weeks. Full recovery after knee arthroscopy may take several months to a year.