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What is knee arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy is a surgical procedure using a small camera through small incisions. The camera is inserted into the knee joint and a complete inventory of the knee is performed. Your surgeon is able to see your knee joint in detail and repair or remove damaged tissue.

Indications for knee arthroscopy:

  • Meniscus Tears
  • Articular cartilage injuries
  • Ligament repairs and reconstruction (i.e. ACL reconstruction)
  • Removal of loose or foreign bodies
  • Lysis of adhesions (cutting scar tissue to improve motion)
  • Debridement
  • Irrigating out infection
  • Lateral Release (cutting tissue to improve patella pain)
  • Fixation of fractures or osteochondral defects (bone/cartilage defects)
  • Diagnostic

How is knee arthroscopy performed?

First, your knee is examined while under general anesthesia to test all your ligaments without muscle resistance. The camera is then placed into your knee through a small incision in the front of your knee. A complete inventory of your knee is performed looking at all the structures in your joint. A second portal is made for the insertion of the working instruments. Usually only two portals are necessary, but occasionally additional portals are needed. The abnormalities seen by your surgeon are corrected.

Your incisions are then stitched together, white steri-strips are placed over your incisions, and your knee is then wrapped in a dressing. Keep your dressing clean, dry, and intact for 3 days post-op. You can shower post-op day 3, scrubbing your thigh and letting the soapy water run over your incisions. Do not scrub your incisions. You will be sent home with pain medication, a medicine for nausea, and we recommend taking an aspirin daily for blood clot prevention for 1 week post-op.

Complications of knee arthroscopy occur infrequently but can include and are not limited to bleeding, blood clots, infection, persistent or increased pain, damage to nerves, blood vessels or cartilage, stiffness, instability, worsening condition, or need for reoperation.

Post-Op Rehabilitation

In most cases, you can go home the same day. Ice and elevate your knee as much as possible for the first 72 hours. You may or may not have a brace, depending what procedure was performed. Follow up with your surgeon 3-5 days post-op.

Physical therapy is prescribed to restore your motion and strength. The amount of therapy that you will need depends on what surgery was performed. Physical therapy is very important in optimizing your outcome. It is hard to estimate when you can return back to work or sport, as each surgery is highly variable. It is important to anticipate the expected length of recovery; it often can be estimated before surgery. You can drive when you are off all narcotic pain medications and can hold your leg up in a straight leg raise for 10 seconds. Ask your doctor before you drive and practice in a parking lot first.