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Knee Arthroscopy

In this page you will find information about an arthroscopy of the knee. For further information, contact your GP or healthcare professional.

A brief section to an arthroscopy of the knee

An arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) allows your surgeon to gain access to the inside of your knee. Using a camera inserted through small cuts in the skin, your surgeon can examine and diagnose conditions such as a torn cartilage, arthritis and ligament damage.  This is a day-case procedure.


Figure 1
Internal structure of the right knee

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How you can benefit from this surgery

Keyhole surgery, such as arthroscopy, enables your surgeon to identify and confirm what the problem is. In many cases they can also treat the condition affecting your knee at the same time.

Are there alternative procedures to surgery?

Problems affecting the inside of the knee can usually be diagnosed using a magnetic scan, also known as an MRI scan. However, once diagnosed, an arthroscopy may still be the best way to treat the problem.

What does an arthroscopy involve?

An arthroscopy is a relatively short operation usually lasting between half an hour to three-quarters of an hour. There is also an assortment of anaesthetic techniques available.

The procedure enables your surgeon to examine the inside of your knee and wash out loose material caused by the wearing of joint surfaces. The trimming and repair of a torn cartilage is usually possible without making a larger cut in the skin too.

What complications could you experience?

General complications include:

  • Pain
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots

Specific complications include:

  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the knee (complex regional pain syndrome)
  • Infection in the knee joint
  • Damage to nerves around the knee
  • Developing a lump under the wound

How long will you take to recover?

In general, you should be able to go home the same day of the operation.

Following the procedure, walking can be uncomfortable and it is not uncommon for the knee to be a little swollen for a few weeks.

With the help of regular exercise you should be able to resume normal activities as soon as possible.

Remember to get advice from your healthcare professional or your GP before you begin exercising.

In most cases people make a good recovery from an arthroscopy and will be able to return to normal activities. If you are likely to get further problems with your knee, your surgeon will advise you.

To summarise

An arthroscopy enables the diagnosis and treatment of an assortment of knee problems without cutting a large area of the skin. This procedure could reduce the amount of pain experienced and speed up recovery following surgery.

References: 

EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare. 

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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