The role of Arthroscopy
Knee arthroscopy is often done to confirm a diagnosis. It's usually
an outpatient procedure. In most cases, your surgeon can treat your
problem at the same time.
The arthroscope is a device that looks directly into joints. The
arthroscope contains a light source, a camera, and a pathway for
fluids. An intense, cool light is beamed into the joint. The camera
sends an image of the knee joint to a monitor. Sterile fluid may
be used to expand the joint. This makes it easier for the surgeon.
Lab tests may be done before arthroscopy procedures. Just before the arthroscopy,
you will receive anesthesia to make you comfortable. Then a few
incisions (portals) are made in your knee. The portals are half
an inch long or less. An arthroscope is inserted through one portal,
and your surgeon looks inside your knee. Knee problems can often
be treated with special tools inserted through the other portals.
Risks and Complications
As with any procedure, arthroscopy procedures have risks. These can include
swelling and stiffness, bleeding, blood clots, infection or continuing
In the recovery room
Your knee will be bandaged, iced, and elevated. Medications will
help reduce swelling and pain during your arthroscopy recovery. When you are awake and alert, the
nurse will review all discharge instructions and help get you ready
to go home.
You may go home a few hours after arthroscopy. The anesthesia and
pain medication are likely to make you sleepy. So arrange to have
someone drive you home. Before leaving, you will receive crutches
and be instructed on crutch-walking.
Home Arthroscopy Recovery
At home, follow your surgeon's instructions. He or she may want
to see you during the first few weeks after arthroscopy. If needed,
you may be referred to a physical therapist to help you regain movement.
- Relieving Pain
To reduce swelling and pain, elevate your leg. For the first two
days, ice your knee 20-30 minutes a few times a day.
You can shower once your physician says its ok. You may be asked
to cover your leg with plastic to avoid wetting your bandage and
incisions. Getting these wet increases your chance of infection.
Certain exercises can speed recovery. Your doctor may ask you
to walk or perform quadriceps sets and straight leg raises. Use
slow steady movements. And always exercise both legs to keep your
muscles balanced. A physical therapist may also design an exercise
program for you. This will help improve muscle strength and joint
Getting Back in Action
Your surgeon's skills, the dedicated arthroscopic unit at BHMC-LR
and your own efforts can help you get moving soon. After knee arthroscopy,
most people can return to office work within a week. And many return
to a more active life within 1-2 months.
Your Arthroscopy Experience
Your Orthopedic Evaluation
Your surgeon will ask about the history of your knee problem. You
may be asked whether your symptoms began after an injury. You will
be examined. In some cases, one or more diagnostic tests may be
Your knee will be checked for swelling, tenderness and stability.
Your knees ability to move (its range of motion) may also be checked.
X-ray images can show breaks in your bones or abnormal bone structures.
X-rays may also show arthritis. Your
surgeon may suspect damage to soft tissue. In that case, MRI (magnetic
resonance imaging) may be used.