Arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure in which a joint is viewed using a small camera. This procedure helps doctors diagnose and treat knee porblems by giving a clear view of the inside of the knee.
Arthroscopy is performed using tiny incisions. During the procedure, a small camera called an arthroscope is inserted into the knee joint. The arthroscope sends images from the inside of the knee to a large monitor. Surgeons are able to view structures of the inside of the knee in great detail. Surgeons can also use arthscopy to feel, repair, or remove damaged tissue. Small instruments are inserted into other areas of your knee to do this.
Preparing for Surgery
A complete physical examination with your family physician may need to be completed prior to surgery. Your health will be assessed and any potential problems that may interfere with the surgery will be identified.
Before your surgery you should tell your orthopedic surgeon about any medications that you are currently taking. Your surgeon may order pre-operative tests, such as blood counts, to help plan for your procedure.
Almost all arthroscopy procedures are done on an outpatient basis.
When you first arrive for surgery, a member of the anesthesia team will talk to you. He or she will give you three options which arthroscopy can be performed under.
Local anesthesia numbs just your knee
Regional anesthesia numbs you below your waist
General anesthesia puts you to sleep
The anesthesiologist will help you decide which method is best for you.
The procedure stars with the surgeon making a few small incisions in your knee. A sterile solution is used to fill the knee joint and clear away any cloudy fluid to help the orthopedic surgeon clearly see your knee and with great detail. Your surgeon inserts the arthroscope and uses the image on the monitor to diagnose your problem. If surgical treatment is needed, your surgeon will then insert tiny instruments through other small incisions around the knee. This part of the procedure lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour.
After your incisions are closed you will be moved to a recovery room and should be able to go home within 1 or 2 hours.
Recovery from arthroscopy is generally quicker than traditional open knee surgery. It is important to follow your surgeon's instructions carefully once you return home.
Swelling can be relieved by keeping your leg elevated as much as possible for the first few days after surgery. Applying ice as recommended by your doctor can also aleviate some swelling and pain.
Most patients will need crutches or other assistance after arthroscopic surgery. Your surgeon will tell you when it is okay to put weight on your foot and leg.
Your doctor will discuss with you when it is safe to drive. Driving time depends on various factors.
The knee involved
Whether you drive and automatic or stick shift
The nature of the procedure
Your pain level
How well you can control your knee
Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication to help relieve discomfort in the days following your surgery. Medications should be taken as directed by your physician.
Exercises should be used to help strengthen your knee. Your physician will discuss an exercise program with you that will help aid in your recovery.