Arthroscopic knee surgery has the advantage of being a less invasive surgical method. With knee arthroscopy, a surgeon uses a small tool called an “arthroscope” to both investigate and s correct problems. In other words, arthroscopy is used to both diagnose knee problems and also to treat problems found in the knee joint. This type of surgical procedure allows your doctor to get a look at the knee joint without having to make a sizeable incision through the skin and other surrounding soft tissue. The smaller incision means less pain for patients. It also means less stiffness in the joint and, often, it means a shorter recovery time before the patient can return to a normal level of activities.
In arthroscopic knee surgery, the surgeon inserts a thin tube through a small incision that is usually around the size of a buttonhole. Attached to this narrow tube is a fiber-optic video camera called an arthroscope. The camera displays a picture of the inside of your knee joint on a high definition video monitor. The video monitor display is then utilized by the surgery to guide small surgical instruments used to both diagnose knee issue and also, if possible, correct them. Additional small incisions are usually required for the small, thin surgical instruments to go in and repair certain types of joint damage.
Certain conditions are available to be treated through arthroscopic knee surgery. These include:
- Inflamed linings of the knee joint
- Damaged cartilage
- Torn cartilage
- Loose bone fragments
- Scarring within the knee joint
Arthroscopic surgical procedures for the knee include:
- Inflamed synovial tissue removal
- Torn anterior cruciate ligament repair
- Torn meniscus removal
- Torn meniscus repair
- Trimming damaged articular cartilage
- Loose bone fragments or cartilage removal
- Kneecap treatment
- Treatment of infection in the knee
If you are set to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, here is what you can expect. In the operating room, you will be given anesthesia and the surgical site will be cleaned to prevent infection. Surgical draping will be used to cover your leg, but the surgical incision site will be open. Your surgeon may also have a positioning device placed on your leg to help stabilize your knee for the procedure. The procedure will begin with a surgeon making “portals” in your knee. These portals are actual small incisions. In order for your surgeon to get the best possible view of everything in your knee, the knee joint will be filled with a sterile solution that will rinse away any cloudy fluid obscuring the view of the knee. With the ability to see the knee more clearly and in more detail, the surgeon will first look to diagnose what is going on with your knee. Should the damage to your knee be reparable with arthroscopic surgery, other miniature surgical instruments will be inserted into more portals created by the surgeon. These miniature surgical instruments are specialized specifically for arthroscopic surgery and can be used for things such as cutting, shaving, and grasping.
Once the surgery is complete, the incisions will be closed with either stiches or steri-strips. Steri-strips are small band aids. Your knee will then be covered with a soft bandage. The majority of arthroscopic procedures only last an hour or less. The exact length of time for your particularly surgery, however, will greatly vary depending on what the surgeon finds out during the arthroscopy and determines what exact treatment is necessary.