Arthroscopy of the knee uses a small arthroscope or camera to verify injuries to the knee joint. The camera enters the knee joint via several small incisions. The results of the arthroscopy allow your surgeon to visually inspect the joint, cartilage, tendons, bones, and muscles that make up the knee joint. The information received allows your surgeon to customize a treatment plan for existing knee issues. Arthroscopy of the knee might be used to correct or repair damage to the knee joint, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage. Doctors use it repair damage to cartilage, such as repairing meniscal tears or chondral injuries. Arthroscopy is also used to diagnose and correct ACL injuries and injuries to the kneecap. The primary benefit is that this is a less invasive procedure. That means a decreased risk of infection, shorter recovery time, and faster time for patients to resume their normal activities. The alternative to arthroscopy is full open surgery which is much more invasive, requires larger openings for diagnostic and repairs and requires longer hospital stays for recovery.
A physical exam will typically be performed prior to the operation. This helps to evaluate the health of the person and uncover any concerns which could obstruct surgery. Notify the surgeon about any medications or supplements you are currently taking as certain medications must be avoided before surgery. If necessary, preoperative tests can be ordered such as a blood test or an electrocardiogram, of EKG.
Initially, the surgeon will rinse and fill the knee joint with a sterile solution. An arthroscope will be inserted and the picture projected on a TV to give the doctor a better view inside the knee. The doctor will then insert specially designed instruments through small incisions and perform the repairs or removals. These instruments can include scissors, motorized shavers, or lasers. The procedure usually lasts between 30 minutes and an hour. It can take more time depending on the damage. Once the repairs or removal is accomplished, the surgeon will suture the incisions with either a stitch or a sterile strip. Then these will be protected with a bandage.