Knee Arthroscopy (Keyhole Surgery)
Knee arthroscopy is an operation that lets the surgeon visualize the inside of your knee. It allows the surgeon to diagnose certain conditions and also treat specific conditions.
What Does Knee Arthroscopy Involve?
Knee arthroscopy is a minor surgical procedure and done as Daycase Surgery (patient discharged within a few hours of surgery). It requires a general anaesthetic and usually lasts 25-45 minutes.
Once you are asleep a tight bandage (tourniquet) is applied.
It involves making 2 small stab incisions over the front of the knee and inserting a camera through one hole and instruments through the other. Fluid is pumped into the knee joint to help visualize structures. Specific procedures can then be performed such as washing out loose bodies, removing loose or torn menisci (cartilage), and inspecting/probing of the cruciate ligaments.
At the end of the procedure the fluid is drained from the knee, local anaesthetic is injected and stitches are inserted. A well-padded dressing is applied that remains on for 4 days.
Knee arthroscopy does have a small risk of complications which are rare and less than 1 in 100. They include a clot in the legs, which may go to the lungs, infection, nerve or vessel damage, bleeding and failure of resolution of symptoms.
Reasons For Knee Arthroscopy (Who May Benefit)
To help make a diagnosis- knee arthroscopy provides the surgeon with a good view of the internal structures of the knee and can help in diagnosing damage to the joint surface, tears in the meniscus and cruciate ligament tears.
To remove loose bodies in the knee joint which are causing mechanical symptoms such as locking of the knee and pain.
To remove torn pieces of damaged meniscus, The knee contains 2 meniscii- these are semi-circular shock absorbers which are sandwiched in-between the bones of the knee joint. The meniscus can tear causing symptoms of pain. It can be treated by trimming the damaged meniscus- a procedure called partial menisectomy.
To treat isolated patches of wear- the articular cartilage bearing surface of the knee can be acutely damaged leaving a rough crater. This lesion may be helped by a procedure called Microfracture- whereby new cartilage formation is stimulated by multiple surgically created fractures.
After The Operation
You will be seen be the Physiotherapist who will discuss rehabilitation and usually you discharged within a few hours after the operation. In the majority of case you are advised to fully weight bear. You should expect your knee to be swollen, this usually settles down after a few weeks.
The physiotherapist will see you as an out-patient and they will remove your stitches at the 2 week period. The Consultant will see you 6 weeks after the operation to explain the operation findings again and monitor your progress.