Knee Arthroscopy

Knee Arthroscopy Overview

Knee arthroscopy, or “scoping” is used to address a wide variety of knee joint problems including torn cartilage, loose bodies, impingement pain, mild arthritis, and inflammation. It is performed as an outpatient procedure under either spinal or general anaesthesia. A pencil-sized scope and small instruments are placed into the knee through small puncture incisions. Patients do not usually need stitches or crutches. Walking and desk-type work can begin immediately after surgery, with expected minor symptoms for a week or two. Full activities and manual work can usually be resumed by 2 to 3 weeks. Dr. Klippenstein performs knee arthroscopy in Minnedosa for appropriate cases, which can potentially shorten wait times or driving distances for some patients.

Knee Arthroscopy details

Many conditions of the knee can be treated with arthroscopically assisted surgery. This involves the use of a pencil-sized scope passed through small incisions about the knee to provide a magnified image of the joint. Additional small instruments are then used to repair or remove damaged tissue. This type of minimally invasive surgery helps to eliminate the need for larger painful incisions, avoids disrupting muscle and other structures, and allows for quicker recovery.

Knee arthroscopy is used for more major procedures such as ligament reconstruction, as well as for minor procedures to treat torn meniscus cartilage, loose fragments of joint cartilage or bone, damaged joint surfaces, malalignment problems, and inflammation of the joint lining. As well, it can help for diagnostic purposes. Both knees can be scoped under the same anaesthetic if necessary.

Knee arthroscopy is performed as a day surgery procedure under either general or spinal anaesthetic. With a spinal anaesthetic the patient may watch the procedure on their own screen if they wish. A thigh tourniquet is sometimes inflated to control bleeding which can obscure visualization. Most procedures take 10 to 15 minutes. Long acting freezing is injected into the knee after surgery, and a prescription for painkillers is given. Ice is helpful for pain and swelling control. Rarely crutches or a brace are required post-operatively, but in most cases the patient can walk unassisted after surgery.

Any operation has potential risks, and for knee arthroscopy this includes anaesthetic risks, minor persistent bleeding (most common), infection (approximately 1 in 100 cases), blood clots in the leg or lungs (1 in 1000), and blood vessel or nerve injury (extremely rare). The success of an operation cannot be guaranteed, and it is possible that some symptoms may persist after surgery. Sometimes, for example, the symptoms from a meniscus tear will be eliminated though discomfort from associated arthritis may persist. Occasionally an arthroscopically treated problem can recur after a period of time.

Post-operative instructions will be given on the day of surgery. Most importantly, incisions should be kept clean and dry until completely healed. If it is not possible to discuss the surgical findings on that day, this will be done at the follow up visit. If the patient has a sedentary, desk-type job, they can return to work a day or two after surgery. Return to a more manual job or one involving considerable standing, walking, or kneeling should be postponed for 2 to 3 weeks. Sports can usually be resumed within several weeks of surgery.