Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure during which the internal structure of a joint is examined for diagnosis and treatment of problems inside the joint. In arthroscopic examination, a small incision is made in the patient’s skin through which pencil-sized instruments that have a small lens and lighting system (arthroscope) are passed. Arthroscope magnifies and illuminates the structures of the joint with the light that is transmitted through fiber optics. It is attached to a television camera and the interior of the joint is seen on the television monitor.
The knee is made up of the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone), and patella (kneecap). The meniscus, the soft cartilage between the femur and tibia, serves as a cushion and helps absorb shock during motion. Arthritis (inflammation of the joints), injury, or other diseases of the joint can damage this protective layer of cartilage, causing extreme pain and difficulty in performing daily activities. The meniscus when torn may catch or lock while bending the knee. You may experience pain in the back or outside of your knee.
Your doctor may advise a knee arthroscopy if you have:
Arthroscopic examination of joints is helpful in diagnosis and treatment of the following conditions:
During arthroscopic surgery, either a general, spinal or local anesthesia will be given depending on the condition. A small incision of the size of a buttonhole is made through which the arthroscope is inserted. Other accessory incisions will be made through which specially designed instruments are inserted. After the procedure is completed arthroscope is removed and incisions are closed. You may be instructed about the incision care, activities to be avoided and exercises to be performed for faster recovery.
It may take several weeks for the puncture wounds to heal and the joint to recover completely. A rehabilitation program may be advised for a speedy recovery of normal joint function. You can resume normal activities within a few days.
Rehabilitation begins immediately following the surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with a home exercise program to strengthen thigh and calf muscles. Physical therapy will be scheduled before you first follow up appointment.
Some of the possible complications after arthroscopy include infection, phlebitis (clotting of blood in vein), excessive swelling, bleeding, blood vessel or nerve damage and instrument breakage.