What is Knee Arthroscopy?
A knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure. It allows surgeons to diagnose and treat a number of knee problems, without the need for a large incision. The process involves making a small incision and inserting a small telescopic camera, called an arthroscope. The camera provides an excellent image of the knee joint, allowing the surgeon to ably inspect the joint, diagnose a range of conditions and deliver the relevant treatment with the use of small instruments. Arthroscopic surgery minimises recovery time and discomfort for the patient.
Conditions Treated with Arthroscopy
Arthroscopic knee surgery can treat a number of conditions effectively and with minimal invasiveness. The conditions it can treat include:
– Articular cartilage injury
– Torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
– Knee bone fractures
– Misaligned patella
– Torn meniscus
– Inflammatory arthritis
– Soft tissue impingement
– Loose fragments of cartilage or bone.
Knee Arthroscopy Surgery
Pre-operation: How to prepare for a knee arthroscopy
There are few things to note when preparing for a knee arthroscopy, to ensure the procedure goes smoothly. Firstly, it’s important not to take aspirin and anti-inflammatories for the 10 days before your arthroscopic surgery. Moreover, if you smoke, your surgeon will advise you to refrain from smoking before your surgery. On the day of your procedure, you will be required to fast for the 6 hours beforehand.
Surgery: What to expect?
You’ll be admitted to the hospital day-surgery unit on the morning of your procedure. Your surgeon will visit you beforehand, identify the knee and mark the area.
Once your anaesthetic has been administered, your knee will be sterilised and a torniquet will be fastened around the thigh. This process minimises bleeding throughout the procedure. Sterile drapes will also be put in place around the knee area, to further reduce the risk of infection.
The surgeon will then begin the arthroscopic surgery, usually by making two small incisions. This allows for the arthroscope to be inserted through one incision, while surgical tools can be inserted through the second incision, if required.
The arthroscope will capture images of your knee joint, allowing the surgeon to either treat the condition then and there, or discuss the images and further treatment options with you after the procedure.
After the procedure is complete, your knee will be injected with a local anaesthetic, which reduces pain post-operation. You will wake in the recovery ward, where you will be monitored and observed until the effects of the anaesthetic have dissipated
Once you are fully awake, you will be shown how to walk safely post-operation and will be given exercises for recovery. You will need to be taken home by another person, as driving after an anaesthetic is not permitted.
Risks and Complications
The risk for potential complications after arthroscopic knee surgery is extremely minimal, one reason as to why this is such a common procedure. The potential risks include infection, damage to nerves and blood vessels, or a return of your original symptoms. Your surgeon will discuss risk factors with you and answer any questions that you may have. However, as mentioned, the likelihood of any of these complications eventuating is small.
Knee Arthroscopy Recovery and Timeline
Once you go home, your surgeon may instruct you to keep your weight off the operated leg. The period of recovery will vary from patient to patient and it’s important to take the advice given to you
Patients may generally return to office work within one week and within one to two months you will likely resume normal activities.