Arthroscopy allows doctors to diagnose and/or treat many joint problems utilizing a minimally invasive surgical method. In this procedure a tiny camera, called an arthroscope, is introduced into the joint through a small incision. The video captured by the arthroscope is projected onto a viewing screen enabling the surgeon to see all of the structures in the joint in great detail. At the same time miniaturized surgical instruments to perform tasks associated with the diagnosis and repair of the joint are inserted through other incisions.
When indicated, an arthroscopic procedure has some advantages over an open surgery. Because smaller incisions are required and there is less disruption to surrounding structures, post-operative pain and recovery time is generally reduced. Additionally these operations can often be performed as outpatient procedures.
Knee arthroscopy is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. It is often used to locate and identify sources of knee pain and to repair or remove damaged knee tissue when surgical treatment is necessary.
Arthroscopic surgery is frequently used in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of knee problems including:
- Torn or damaged anterior or posterior cruciate ligaments
- Torn meniscal cartilage
- Patella (kneecap) that is out of position
- Pieces of torn cartilage that are loose in the joint
- Removal of a Baker’s cyst (a swelling behind the knee that is filled with fluid)
- Some fractures of the bones of the knee
- Swollen or damaged synovium (the lining in the joint)
Recovery time from an arthroscopic procedure on the knee depends on the severity of the knee problem as well as the complexity of the surgical treatment to repair, reconstruct, or remove damaged tissue. A smooth recovery depends in large part on a strict adherence to all post-operative care instructions. It is important to follow the surgeon’s recommendations for a return to daily activities and to participate in a prescribed physical rehabilitation program.