What is Arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy, colloquially termed ‘keyhole surgery’, is a common surgical procedure in which a joint is viewed using a small camera. Arthroscopy is done through small incisions, after which an arthroscope is inserted into the joint, displaying the structure of the joint to the doctor on a monitor. A doctor can use arthroscopy to feel, repair, or remove damaged tissue using small instruments.High definition monitors and high resolution cameras mean that arthroscopy gives doctors a clear view of the inside of a joint, helping them diagnose and treat problems.

Before Surgery

  • Consult your family physician and have a complete physical examination to identify any possible health issues that could interfere with your surgery.
  • Inform your orthopaedic surgeon any prior medications or supplements that you take.
  • To help plan your procedure, your orthopaedic surgeon may order pre-operative tests. These may include blood counts or an EKG (electrocardiogram).
  • Please do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before your surgery.

Surgery

The orthopaedic surgeon will make a few small incisions in your knee. A sterile solution will be used to fill the knee joint and rinse away any cloudy fluid. This helps your orthopaedic surgeon see your knee clearly and in great detail.

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Knee arthroscopy
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Close-up of meniscal repair

Your surgeon’s first task is to properly diagnose your problem. He or she will insert the arthroscope and use the image projected on the screen to guide it. If surgical treatment is needed, your surgeon will insert tiny instruments through another small incision. These instruments might be scissors, motorized shavers, or lasers.

This part of the procedure usually lasts 30 minutes to over an hour. How long it takes depends upon the findings and the treatment necessary.

Arthroscopy for the knee is most commonly used for:

  • Removal or repair of torn meniscal cartilage
  • Reconstruction of a torn anterior cruciate ligament
  • Trimming of torn pieces of articular cartilage
  • Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage
  • Removal of inflamed synovial tissue

Your surgeon may close your incisions with a stitch or steri-strips (small bandaids) and cover them with a soft bandage.

You will be moved to the recovery room and should be able to go home within 1 or 2 hours. Be sure to have someone with you to drive you home.

After Surgery

  • Recovery after an arthroscopy is much faster than a tradition open joint surgery.
  • After a Knee Arthroscopy, keep your leg elevated as often as you can to help the recovery process.
  • Most patients can start driving again 1~3 weeks after the procedure
  • Regular exercise and therapeutic exercise are essential in optimising the recovery process.
  • Apart from ACL reconstruction surgery, most patients can resume regular activity 6~8 weeks after the surgical procedure upon consultation with your doctor.