Knee Arthroscopy/ Keyhole surgery

Knee Arthroscopy is a form of surgery which is used for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of various conditions affecting the knee joint.

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What is a Knee Arthroscopy?
The procedure is minimally invasive, requiring 2-3 small incisions made on the front of the knee, so that the arthroscope (which is a small camera) can be inserted into the knee. Once the arthroscope is inside the joint, the surgeon can assess and deal with the knee problem, using small surgical tools, if necessary.

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Who is a good candidate for Knee Arthroscopy?

Pain or feeling of instability in the knee is the usual reason for having a knee arthroscopy. In some cases, the knee arthroscopy can be used in making a diagnosis, and in others, the condition may have already been diagnosed prior to the procedure.

People who have suffered a knee injury are good candidates for an Arthroscopy. Injuries which can require the treatment include loose cartilage or bony pieces in the joint, torn cartilage pieces in the joint; a torn meniscus (the cartilage located between the bones in the knee joint); swollen joint lining (the synovium), Bony pieces following a fracture within the knee ( Osteochondral defects); occasionally for the assessment of early arthritis 

What does Knee Arthroscopy involve?

Ahead of knee arthroscopy, your doctor would usually advise you on the preparation needed, and request that you cease taking specific medication or supplements that you are using. You would usually fast - with no intake of food or fluids - for six to 12 hours prior to the procedure.

The procedure starts with anaesthetic being administered. The anaesthetic used for a knee arthroscopy is either a general anaesthetic which puts you to sleep entirely, a regional anaesthetic that numbs the body's lower half, or a local anaesthetic for numbing only the knee region. The type of anaesthetic which is used can be determined by many factors - your surgeon will consider your age and overall health.

Beginning the procedure, the surgeon will make some small incisions, before saline is pumped in to expand the knee. This offers the surgeon a better view of the inside of the joint. The arthroscope can then be inserted into the knee joint.  As the surgeon moves the camera around the different parts of the knee, it allows the surgeon to watch the footage on a monitor. After the surgeon has identified the problem area, they can use small surgical tools to deal with the issues. 

Commonly undertaken procedures include resection or repair of the meniscus, removal of loose bodies, tidy up (debride) a joint, or take a sample of the joint lining. Saline is then drained, and the incisions are closed with stitches. Local anaesthetic is left in the joint for pain relief

Recovery from Knee Arthroscopy

The procedure itself takes less than an hour and does not require you to stay in hospital overnight. An icepack can be applied in the hours following the procedure to ease pain and swelling, and it will be helpful to have a somebody to help look after you in the first 24 hours of recovery. It is important that the leg is kept elevated when possible.

An exercise programme will help to increase strength and flexibility in the knee in the weeks following the procedure. You will attend a follow-up appointment to check on your recovery progress.