Knee Arthroscopy

What is knee arthroscopy?

elderly couple doing stretching exercises

Arthroscopy is used to diagnose and treat a wide range of knee problems by allowing orthopaedic surgeons to see the knee joint through a small incision. A small camera called an arthroscope is inserted through the incision into the joint, displaying images on a monitor. As the surgeon views the images, he or she may insert and guide other small instruments in to help diagnose or treat the problem.

Arthroscopy, with its smaller incisions and use of miniature instruments, results in less pain and stiffness, allowing for quicker recovery and return to daily activities.

When should I see a specialist for knee arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy may relieve painful symptoms due to damaged knee cartilage and soft tissues surrounding the joint. If you have a painful condition that does not respond to conservative treatment such as rest, physiotherapy, and medications, you could consider seeing a specialist for knee arthroscopy.

Enquire with our orthopaedic surgeons.

Did you know?

A study compared three groups of participants who were at risk of developing osteoarthritis and were either obese, overweight, or had a normal body mass index. Participants who lost weight over 48 months showed significantly lower cartilage degeneration; the greater the weight loss, the slower the degeneration rate1.

What are the risks of knee arthroscopy?

runner in running shoes outdoors on path

Knee arthroscopy has a low complication rate. Any complications such as those listed below, are generally considered to be minor:

● Knee stiffness
● Infection
● Blood clots

How should I prepare for my appointment?

Your orthopaedic surgeon will assess your general health and determine the reason for your painful or stiff knee. To prepare for your appointment, you should bring with you:

● Any previous medical records related to your condition such as a referral letter
● Any medications or supplements that you are currently taking
● Past imaging/laboratory tests
● A brief timeline of your symptoms (when and how did the pain or stiffness start?)
● A list of questions that you may have for your doctor to ensure that all your concerns are addressed.

If a knee arthroscopy is recommended and if you have certain health risks, the orthopaedic surgeon may conduct a more extensive evaluation such as an electrocardiogram (EKG).

What can I expect during knee arthroscopy?

two hikers on a mountain trail
Knee arthroscopy is usually done as a day surgery and generally takes less than an hour. Prior to the procedure, you will be given anesthesia. Your knee will be cleaned and draped to only expose the prepared incision site.

During the procedure, your orthopaedic surgeon will make a few incisions and “rinse” the joint with a sterile liquid, to allow him or her to see your knee clearly. The arthroscope will be inserted and the surgeon will use the camera images on the monitor to determine what is wrong with your knee. If treatment is possible, he will insert other miniature instruments to shave, cut or repair the joint.

The surgeon will close the incisions with either stitches or small plasters and wrap your knee with a soft bandage.

What happens after my knee arthroscopy?

You may be allowed home after 1 or 2 hours. Your doctor will likely prescribe short-term pain relief and if required, anti-clotting drugs. You would be asked to keep your leg raised to help bring down the swelling and to keep the dressing clean and dry. You may be advised to exercise regularly to restore strength and mobility to your knee.

Most people are able to return to their daily activities fairly soon after the procedure. The recovery is dependent on the extent of the knee injury.

Request an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon today.

[1] Gersing AS, Schwaiger BJ, Nevitt MC, et al. Is Weight Loss Associated with Less Progression of Changes in Knee Articular Cartilage among Obese and Overweight Patients as Assessed with MR Imaging over 48 Months? Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Radiology. 2017;284(2):508-520. doi:10.1148/radiol.2017161005.