Arthroscopy involves looking into the knee with a fine telescope (which also illuminates the knee joint cavity) using small incisions. Most of the interior of the knee can be visualised and operated upon.
Nearly all arthroscopies are performed on a day case basis with patients leaving hospital within a few hours of surgery. The operation is normally performed to allow the treatment of symptoms caused by torn knee cartilages (menisci) or loose fragments of cartilage and bone.
Recently new procedures have become available that also allow the treatment of certain types of injury to the cartilage covering the knuckles of the joint itself (the chondral cartilage). Nearly all ligament reconstructions are now also performed arthroscopically.
Following surgery the knee is filled with local anaesthetic and sterile adhesive dressings and a padded bandage are then applied. Because the anaesthetic makes the knee a little clumsy during the first few hours following surgery, you are asked to use crutches when you are discharged from hospital, but you may walk without these as soon as you feel able, unless you have specifically been asked to continue using them by your surgeon. The outer wool and crepe dressings can be removed 48hrs following the operation but the adhesive dressings should be left undisturbed for at least a week. All Knee Clinic patients undergoing knee arthroscopy receive protection against thrombosis with anti-embolism stockings supplemented by blood thinning drugs where necessary.
You will usually be referred to a physiotherapist who will supervise your early post-operative rehabilitation, although it is rare following simple arthroscopy to require more than 2 or 3 sessions of physiotherapy during the first 3 or 4 weeks following your operation. Most patients have made a full recovery between 4 and 6 weeks and on average require only 1 week away from work. Most patients can drive within a few days but this will of course depend upon which of your knees has been operated upon and whether you drive a manual or automatic car.