Arthroscopy is a “keyhole” operation that is used to look inside and treat joints, especially the knee joint. It is performed through very small cuts in the skin, using a narrow, tube-like telescope called an arthroscope.Arthroscopy is useful for finding out what is causing symptoms, to deliver treatment for conditions such as arthritis and inflammation, to take small samples of tissue, or to repair damage to tissues and cartilage. The procedure is usually done as a day-case.Arthroscopy knee surgery is usually done under general anaesthesia, which means that you will be asleep during the procedure, or for some patients, epidural or spinal anaesthesia is preferable. This will completely block the feeling in your legs but you stay awake. Your surgeon and anaesthetist will discuss with you which type of anaesthesia is most suitable in your case.
Your surgeon will make two small cuts (about 5mm long) in the skin around the knee joint. The first cut is used to pump sterile fluid into the joint to help produce a clearer picture. The second cut is used to insert the arthroscope.Your surgeon will view the joint, by looking directly through the arthroscope, or at pictures it sends to a video screen. If necessary, other instruments can be inserted to repair any damage or remove material that interferes with movement or causes pain in the knee.Afterwards, the fluid is drained out and the cuts are closed with stitches or adhesive strips. Then a dressing and a bandage is wrapped around the knee. An arthroscopy can take from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on how much work your surgeon needs to do inside the joint.
Before you go home, a physiotherapist will also visit you to guide you through exercises to get your joint moving.Following your operation, you are likely to have some pain, stiffness and swelling around the joint, which may last a few weeks. Gentle knee exercises will help reduce stiffness and discomfort.