Knee Arthroscopy

An Overview for Patients:

   by Matthew Harris MD, MBA

Knee Arthroscopy is a form of minimally invasive surgery that is performed in order to address, or assist, intra-articular pathology within the knee.   It is one of the most common surgeries that Orthopedists perform, and they are done so for a variety of reasons that include but are not limited to:

  • to Treat Meniscal Injury (either repair or resection)
  • Removal of loose bodies (floating pieces of cartilage, tissue or bone)
  • While Performing an ACL and/or PCL reconstructions
  • to perform Microfracture, OATS and other cartilage regenerating or restoring procedures
  • for purposes of Diagnosing Intra-articular pain or pathology that remains elusive even after exam and imaging
  • to assist in Fracture Reduction and Treatment
  • to help in Treating Infections
  • Debridement of Synovial Diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis, PVNS and so on)

Surgeons will make either two or three small incisions around your knee joint.  Through one of these incisions we will pass the camera that allows us to see inside while we are working.  In the other incision we place the tools that we need in order to perform the procedure that is required.  Some surgeons will prefer to use a third incision to flush saline water through your joint while working, whereas, others prefer to accomplish this simultaneously through one of the first two incisions.  

Post-op care after the surgery depends upon the specific procedures that were performed, and can vary widely.  Some patients will be allowed to walk immediately after the surgery, while others may be required to remain non-weight bearing for many weeks.  A general rule of thumb though, is that alternating cold packs on and off over the knee and on top of the bandages is an effective tool for helping to decrease swelling that and pain.  Both of these are extremely common following any knee arthroscopy procedure, but you should always notify your physician immediately if either the swelling or pain fall outside of the expected parameters as they were explained to you by your treating surgeon after the surgery.  Because these the skin incisions are small, and the blood flow around the knee is typically quite good, it is very unusual to develop an infection following an arthroscopy.  Swelling usually begins regressing after about 7 days, and should be resolved in 10 - 14 days for most procedures.   

If you are interested in reading more about Knee Arthroscopy, please refer to the Patient Information page that has been provided by the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) which can be accessed by clicking here