Knee arthroscopy is a procedure used to visualise the inside of the knee joint. An instrument called the arthroscope is used. It is a flexible tube as thick as a pencil, with a light source. With its help, an image of the inside of the knee joint is projected onto a TV monitor.
When is it used?
It is a diagnostic procedure used to find the cause of pain, swelling, tenderness, or weakness in the knee.
What preparation is needed?
Follow the instructions given by the doctor. If general anaesthesia is to be given, do not eat or drink anything after midnight or the morning before the procedure. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water after midnight.
What happens during the procedure?
General, regional, or local anaesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. The arthroscope is inserted along with a tube of saltwater solution and a probe instrument into the knee. Then fluid is injected into the knee. In case a tear in the cartilage or ligaments or loose material is found in the knee, it is repaired using small instruments with the arthroscope. After the procedure the small openings are closed with one or two stitches or sticky tape.
What happens after the procedure?
The patient can go home on the same day. Keep the leg elevated, with the foot higher than the knee and the knee higher than the hip. Start bending the knee as soon as possible. Take it easy for a couple of days.
What are the benefits and risks?
The knee problem is accurately diagnosed and may be corrected without open surgery, which is more expensive, requires a longer hospital stay and causes more discomfort.
This is a safe procedure but there is some risk with anaesthesia. Some minor discomfort may be felt if the anaesthetic is not fully effective. In rare cases, an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic may occur. A nerve can get injured causing numbness. Very rarely, an artery can get damaged which can cause weakness or pain in the leg and foot. Infection and bleeding may occur.
When should the doctor be called?
The doctor should be called immediately if there is fever, severe pain, swelling or excessive drainage from the puncture sites.