Knee Arthroscopy: What It Is and What to Expect Before, During, and After Surgery

Knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that healthcare providers use to diagnose and treat a wide range of knee problems. Unlike traditional surgery, knee arthroscopy lets your doctor view the knee joint without making a large incision through your skin or soft tissues. The surgical instruments used for the procedure are also thin; this results in less pain and joint stiffness for patients and shortens the recovery time. Here is when Dr. Ronald Hess West Chester would recommend knee arthroscopy.

When would I need knee arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy may be an option if you have a painful condition that doesn’t improve with conservative or surgical treatments like rest, medications, physical therapy, and injections. While arthroscopic knee surgery is effective in treating various problems, it is not a preferred treatment for knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. Knee arthroscopy allows your healthcare provider to look closely at the cartilage, bones, and soft tissues inside your knees. Your doctor may use knee arthroscopy to:

  • Remove or repair a torn meniscus.
  • Remove inflamed synovial tissue.
  • Reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament or posterior cruciate ligament
  • Remove loose fragments of bone or ligaments
  • Treat kneecap problems
  • Trim or reconstruct damaged articular cartilage
  • Treat knee sepsis

How do I prepare for surgery?

Before surgery, a consultation with your primary doctor is essential to assess your general health. During an initial consultation, your healthcare provider identifies problems that may interfere with the procedure or cause complications. A more extensive evaluation is usually necessary for patients with specific health risks. Your primary physician may ask you to provide a list of your current medications. You may need to stop taking any blood thinners since they increase your risk of excessive bleeding and bruising during surgery.

Your orthopedic surgeon may order preoperative tests such as blood tests or electrocardiograms to help plan your procedure.

What to expect during the procedure

Right before the procedure, a specialist will administer local, regional, or general anesthesia so that you don’t feel pain during the procedure. Next, a healthcare provider cleans your leg and secures your knee in a stabilizing device to ensure your knee stays in the proper position throughout the surgery. Your surgeon will then make a small incision in your knee and insert an arthroscope into the opening. An arthroscope is a metal tool with a camera on its end; it captures images inside your knee, which appear on a screen in the operating room. Your surgeon may make other incisions to insert other tools if you need surgery. These tools allow your surgeon to repair torn tissues, shave off damaged bone or cartilage, and remove inflamed or damaged tissues. Finally, the surgeon closes the incisions with stitches and small bandages. Your knee may also be wrapped with a larger bandage or dressing.

What happens after knee arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy is primarily an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home the same day after surgery. However, sometimes patients may need to stay in the hospital after the procedure. You may feel some pain in your knee after surgery; therefore, you will need someone to drive you home. Your surgeon will give you post-operative instructions to ensure seamless healing.

If you have further questions about knee arthroscopy, consult your specialist at Beacon Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.

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