What is Knee Arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy is a surgical procedure done through “keyholes” to access the internal structures of the knee. A thin camera is inserted through a small incision allowing the surgeon to view the inside of the knee on a video screen in the operating theatre. Thin instruments are then inserted through one or more small keyholes to perform the required procedure. 

When is Knee Arthroscopy Recommended?

Knee arthroscopy is recommended for conditions which have failed non-surgical treatment or where non-surgical treatment is likely to cause more damage. Knee arthroscopy can also be used to diagnose certain conditions however with the availability of MRI the diagnosis is usually more certain prior to surgery than it once was.

Common conditions treated with knee arthroscopy include:

What Does the Process Involve?

You may need to temporarily stop certain blood thinning or diabetic medications prior to surgery. You will be informed of this but if you are unsure of your requirements please ask.

A general or regional anaesthetic is required and the length of the procedure varies depending on the condition being treated. 

In most cases the operation is “day surgery” which means you will go home the same day and most people are able to walk without crutches or other supports following surgery. You will be given instructions regarding your dressings and follow-up when you leave hospital.

How Long Does it Take to Recover?

Your recovery depends on the amount and type of damage to your knee and the procedures required. You will need 1-2 weeks off work depending on your job. Sometimes light duties are needed for a further period before returning to full duties. Typically patients are able to drive after 1-2 weeks. People can often return to normal activities by 6 weeks. Recovery takes longer if ligament reconstruction is performed.

Is Physiotherapy Required?

Not everyone who has a knee arthroscopy needs or wants physiotherapy but in certain cases it can be beneficial. If rapid return to sport or physically demanding work is required physiotherapy will be recommended. In the case of ligament reconstruction physiotherapy is mandatory.

What are the Risks?

Knee arthroscopy is a very safe procedure. Risks, however, include but are not limited to infection, blood clots, and stiffness.