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Knee Arthroscopy

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Arthroscopy involves looking inside the knee with a small telescope attached to a camera. The procedure is performed through small incisions, or portals. Structures within the knee including the ligaments, cartilages and joint surfaces can be examined and via secondary portals, surgical procedures can be performed without opening the knee.

Arthroscopic or keyhole procedures are the commonest operations carried out on the knee joint.

Arthroscopy can be used to remove torn menisci, loose bodies in the knee and to perform surgery on damaged joint surfaces. In addition anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is largely performed arthroscopically.

Chondroplasty involves smoothing off the damaged area of articular cartilage or lining of the knee joint. Pieces of cartilage can be removed. This can be useful in patients with early wear and tear arthritis of the knee with the presence of mechanical symptoms such as clicking, locking and catching.

In certain circumstances there may be areas of significant damage of the joint surface with a full thickness loss of the joint lining or articular cartilage.

A microfracture procedure can be performed. This involves making very small holes in the exposed bone surface resulting in the formation of a blood clot and a type of cartilage, which fills the defect.

Surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and a day case. The wounds are usually closed with either steristrips or butterfly stitches. These dressings can be reduced after 48 hours and the steristrips removed at 7-10 days following surgery. Outpatient follow-up is arranged 10-14 days after the operation.

Return to work and to driving will depend on the nature of the operation that has been performed, but in many cases patient would expect to return to driving after 4 days.

Following the operation painkillers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatories are helpful. In the majority of cases weight bearing is permitted immediately, but this will depend on which operation has been performed.

Complications of arthroscopy

Complications are not common, but there are risks in all surgical procedures. DVT or deep vein thrombosis can occur, but is less common after arthroscopy, which is performed as a day case procedure.

Infection of the wounds or portals following arthroscopies is rare and can be treated usually with a course of antibiotics.

Deep infection in the joint following knee arthroscopy is very rare, but can occur.

Bleeding following arthroscopy can cause some post-operative bruising, but bleeding requiring any form of blood transfusion is extremely unusual.

Occasionally there can be overgrowth of scar tissue causing some discomfort at the site of the portals or knee wounds.

How to find us

Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital 67 Lansdowne Road Bournemouth BH1 1RW

Harbour Hospital, St Mary's Road, Poole, Dorset. BH15 2BH