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Knee arthroscopy

August 2016

Knee problems becoming increasingly common as we age but isn’t it wonderful that today there are so many medical procedures right up to a full knee replacement that can be done to get us moving and active again?

A very common procedure is knee arthroscopy. This is when the surgeons use keyhole surgery to look right inside your knee joint to see what is going on.

An arthroscope is a really thin metal tube that has a camera on the end. Sometimes it will also include small instruments that can be used for various procedures within the knee.

Before an arthroscopy is undergone, you may well be given a general anaesthetic although sometimes it is done under local anaesthesia.

Before the procedure, you will have a compression stocking fitted on your other leg to ensure your blood keeps flowing well and you may be given an anticlotting medicine.

Once ready, the surgeon simply makes a small cut in the skin around your knee and then often rinse the knee with sterile fluid. Then in goes the arthroscope and the surgeon will manipulate it from images being sent from the camera to a computer screen.  The surgeon can really examine the inside of the knee by this system, and if necessary as well as noting any problems or damage, smaller aspects such as damaged tissue or cartilage can be repaired or removed.  The arthroscope can also be used to remove tiny segments of tissue for future analysis of what is going on there.

The images on the screen will be saved so that everything can be explained and discussed in full after the procedure. In some cases lasers can also be used to assist the procedure.

Recovery should be quite straightforward but mobility will depend on what treatment you have had. If it was a simple investigative procedure, recovery will be quicker than if you have had some treatment within the knee and it can take a few weeks before you really feel comfortable again. Immediately after the procedure you will probably be told not to put any weight on that leg and will be given crutches plus advice on pain relief.

One aspect that is not always discussed is washing….you will probably need to keep your knee and the dressings clean and dry which means no baths or showers for a spell unless you can really waterproof that leg.

It is likely you will also be given some exercises to follow to help strengthen your knee and facilitiate movement as your recover.

Knee arthroscopy is a very common and successful procedure these days, but it is important not to get too blasé about it….your knee has received big trauma by having the arthroscope inserted and you will need to accept that while it is keyhole surgery, it will still take a while before you fully recover.

Very very occasionally some patients develop side effects which can range from infection in the joint and developing a blood clot to internal bleeding in the knee and even accidently damage to the nerves in the knee, but that said arthroscopy is considered a safe and successful procedure and for many, getting their knee back into action again can transform their lives.


Here's one website which gives a lot of information about this procedure.


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