Knee arthroscopy

What is knee arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy is a surgical procedure (sometimes referred to as “keyhole surgery”) where the surgeon can access the interior of the knee joint through small incisions (less than 1cm) in the skin, avoiding the need for large incisions and scars. A small camera (the arthroscope) and other specialised surgical (arthroscopic) instruments can be inserted through these incisions, and the surgeon can perform debridement (clean-out), repair, or reconstruction of internal joint structures, the arthroscopy can also be used to simply look inside a joint to diagnose a problem.


What procedures can be performed arthroscopically?

Your surgeon can do a large number of procedures in this way. These can be termed diagnostic or therapeutic.

Diagnostic procedures are those that are aimed at finding out the cause of a problem. For example if your knee is painful or swollen, the surgeon is able to access the joint and inspect its internal components, as well as take samples or fluid or tissues which can be sent to the lab to help diagnose the cause of your symptoms.

Therapeutic procedures are planned once the problem has already been diagnosed. Examples of these can be removal of loose pieces of bone or cartilage, debridement (“cleaning out”) of abnormal or diseased tissues or cartilage, repair or reconstruction of damaged structures – such as ligament or fracture repair or reconstruction.

Dr Ihsheish will discuss with you before the operation what the intended purpose is.

How do I prepare for a knee arthroscopy?

In general your surgeon will discuss before-hand with you the need for any specific preparation.

It is important to keep the skin clean and free of scratches or injuries if possible.

On the day of surgery you should fast (refrain from food or drink) for at least six hours before the surgery. If you are taking any regular medications please ask your surgeon if it is permitted to take these with a small sip of water.

What to bring with you on the day ?

It is important to make sure you have your imaging with you (xrays, scans such as MRI or CT scans).

You will need crutches to help you mobilise after knee surgery. If you do not have these please ask out practice where you may be able to get them, sometimes you may be able to get these at the hospital.

What will happen after the surgery?

Most of these procedures are termed “day procedures” – meaning that you will be able to leave the hospital on the same day, once you have overcome the effects of the anaesthetic. You will not be able to drive or operate machinery as the effects of the anaesthetic medications impair your ability to do this for 24 hours, therefor it is important to make arrangement for someone to take you home.

Your knee will be bandaged and depending on the procedure undertaken you may wake with a splint on your leg. The staff at the hospital will let you know if you can walk on this leg or not.

The knee will feel swollen and difficult to move. The swelling results from the fluid used to inflate your joint during the operation. This fluid will be absorbed by your body over the following days.

The bandage may be removed after 1-2 days. Under the bandage you will see small dressings stuck to the skin at the site of the incisions, these are generally water-proof and you can shower with them in place. Please leave these on your skin until your surgeon removes them to inspect the wounds at your follow-up appointment. Your follow-up is usually approximately 2 weeks after the surgery.

What should I look out for at home?

It is normal to experience pain and swelling after these procedures. Both will subside but this happens gradually over several days. If the pain or swelling increase in your leg, or you develop abnormal sensation or skin/temperature changes please bring it to the attention of your surgeon or other medical staff.

If you have any other concerns please also do not hesitate to get in touch with our practice and let us know.