Knee Arthroscopy Surgery: Let’s Walk Through the Process
Knee arthroscopy is a frequently-performed procedure that can both diagnose and treat knee injuries. Using an instrument called an arthroscope, an orthopedic surgeon can observe the structures within the knee joint to locate the cause of pain. When necessary, problems in the joint, such as a tear, may be repaired immediately through the same small incisions made to diagnose the cause of pain.
Benefits of Arthroscopic Surgery
The ultimate goal of knee surgery is to find and repair the cause of knee pain. Benefits of arthroscopic surgery stem from the minimally-invasive nature of this technique compared to open knee surgery. When an arthroscope is used, incisions are much smaller and the surgical field is protected from environmental factors. This can decrease the risk of infection. Arthroscopic surgery is also less traumatic on the tissue surrounding the knee joint, so patients find their recovery much more comfortable and expedient.
Arthroscopic Surgery in Action
Knee arthroscopy is typically an outpatient procedure. Patients go home as soon as the effects of anesthesia begin to wear off (driven by a loved one). There are three common types of anesthesia that may be considered for knee arthroscopy. These include:
- Injected anesthetic. Before surgery, a local painkilling medication may be injected into the operative area. This method of anesthesia may be combined with sedative medication to relax the patient. Sedative medication is typically administered by an anesthesiologist via an IV line. The patient may rest comfortably throughout their procedure but may hear what is happening around them. However, most patients do not recall the details of their surgery once the anesthesia wears off.
- Regional anesthesia. This type of anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist into the spine. The injection delivers painkilling medication in such a way that the patient does not feel their lower extremities until the effects of the spinal wear off.
- General anesthesia. General anesthesia puts the patient into a sleep-state for the duration of the procedure.
Knee arthroscopy involves only a few small incisions, but a cuff may be placed around the thigh to minimize bleeding during the procedure. A small tube with a camera on the end is inserted through one incision, and the internal aspects of the knee joint are displayed on a monitor in the operating room. If tissue repair is needed, tiny instruments are inserted through separate incisions to accomplish this. After all necessary repairs are made, incisions are sutured closed and a dressing is placed over them.
Recovering from Knee Arthroscopy
Simple arthroscopic procedures have a relatively quick initial recovery. Patients may need to use crutches for a week or two and keep physical activity to a minimum. Prescription pain medication may be needed for a few days but may quickly be traded for over-the-counter pain relievers. More complex arthroscopic repair may cause a patient to need crutches or a knee brace for several weeks. Most patients who undergo knee arthroscopy are advised to follow up with physical therapy to restore full mobility to the knee. It may take up to a year for the joint to completely heal. During this time, patients can expect to gradually regain function and comfort.
Call our Paramus, NJ office at 201.291.4040 to learn more about knee pain and how we can help you regain an optimal quality of life.
Category: Knee Injury and Treatment