Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure during which, the internal structure of a joint is examined for the diagnosis and treatment of problems inside the joint. In an arthroscopic examination, a small incision is made in the patient’s skin, through which, a pencil-sized instrument (arthroscope) that has a small lens and lighting system is passed. The arthroscope magnifies and illuminates the structures of the joint with light that is transmitted through fibre optic cables. The arthroscope is attached to a television camera and the interior of the joint is seen on a high definition television monitor.
Arthroscopic examination of the knee joint can be helpful in diagnosis and treatment of the following conditions:
- Cartilage tears
- Ligament damage/reconstruction
- Acute or chronic injury: Injuries to the knee joint such as cartilage tears, ligament tears
- Inflammation: Synovitis, inflammation of the lining of the knee
- Osteoarthritis: For removal of torn cartilage, loose bodies and extra bone formation which can cause mechanical features, removal of scar tissue or for cartilage repair procedures
- Removal of loose bodies (bone or cartilage) that may become ‘locked’ within the joint
Before arthroscopic surgery, a general anaesthetic will usually be given depending on the condition. A small incision measuring 5-10mm is made, through which the arthroscope is inserted. Further incisions will be made through which specially designed instruments are inserted. After the procedure is completed, the arthroscope is removed and incisions are closed. You will be instructed about the incision care, activities to be avoided and exercises to be performed for a faster recovery.
All of the significant complications after knee arthroscopy are rare and the surgeons at The Cambridge Knee are extremely careful to minimise the risks wherever possible. Some of the possible complications after knee arthroscopy include pain and swelling, bleeding or bruising, numbness, infection, blood vessel or nerve damage, blood clots and the risk of ongoing symptoms.
It may take several weeks for the surgical wounds to heal and the joint to recover. A rehabilitation program may be advised for the speedy recovery of normal joint function. You may be able to resume normal activities within a few days if the surgery is straightforward. The post operative plan will be discussed before your surgery.