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Knee arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy
  • Definition

    Arthroscopy is done through small incisions (usually 2). During the procedure, your orthopedic surgeon inserts the arthroscope into your knee joint. The arthroscope sends the image to a television monitor. On the monitor, your surgeon can see the knee structures in great detail, so they can repair or remove injured tissue. To do this, small surgical instruments are inserted through other incisions around your knee.

    The procedure generally lasts from 30 minutes to just over an hour. How long it lasts depends on the findings and the treatment needed.
  • Indications

    Remove or repair broken menisci
    Reconstruct a torn anterior or posterior cruciate ligament
    Trim pieces of articular cartilage
    Remove loose pieces of bone or cartilage
    Remove inflamed synovial tissue

    Your surgeon will close the incisions with a suture and cover them with a soft bandage.
    Recovery from knee arthroscopy is much faster than traditional open knee surgery.
  • Risks

    The risks of anesthesia and surgery in general are:

    Allergic reactions to medications
    Respiratory problems
    Bleeding, blood clots, infection

    The risks of knee arthroscopy are:

    Accumulation of blood in the knee

    Call your orthopedic surgeon immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

    Shaking chills
    Persistent heat or redness zone around the knee
    Persistent or increasing pain
    Significant swelling in your knee
    Increasing pain in your calf muscle
  • Prospects (prognosis)

    Bear weight

    Most patients do not need crutches or other assistance after arthroscopic surgery. When necessary, your surgeon will tell you if and how much weight on your foot and leg is safe.


    A pain medication will be prescribed to help ease the discomfort after surgery. They may also recommend medications such as aspirin or heparin to decrease the risk of blood clots.

    Exercises to strengthen your knee

    You should exercise your knee regularly for several weeks after surgery. This will restore movement and strengthen your leg and knee muscles.

    Therapeutic exercise will play an important role in your recovery and can improve the end result.

    Final result

    Unless you have a ligament reconstruction, you should be able to return to most of your physical activities after 6 to 8 weeks, or sometimes much earlier. Higher impact activities should be avoided for a longer time.

    If your job involves heavy tasks, it may take longer before you can return to work, assess when it is reasonable and safe for you to return to work.

    The end result of your surgery will likely be determined by the degree of damage to your knee. For example, if the articular cartilage in your knee has worn down completely, then full recovery may not be possible. You may need to change your lifestyle. This may mean limiting your activities and looking for low-impact exercise alternatives.

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