In the late 1970s and early 1980s, arthroscopic surgery became popular, especially in the sports world, as fiber-optic technology enabled surgeons to see inside the body using a small telescope, called an “arthroscope,” which projects an image to a television monitor. Thanks to ongoing improvements made by technology leaders like Smith & Nephew, arthroscopic surgery is now accessible to more people than just professional athletes. In fact, active patients all over the world have experienced the benefits of minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Arthroscopy may be used for a variety of knee joint conditions, including a torn meniscus, loose pieces of broken cartilage in the joint, a torn or damaged anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL), an inflamed or damaged synovium (the lining of the joint), or a malalignment of the patella (knee cap).
Through an incision the width of a straw tip, your surgeon is able to insert a scope, which allows him or her to inspect your joint and locate the source of your pain. The scope can also help identify tears or other damage that may have been missed by an X-ray or MRI. Your surgeon will then make one or more small incisions to accommodate the instruments used to repair the knee. These instruments can shave, trim, cut, stitch, or smooth the damaged areas.
Arthroscopic knee surgery is often performed in an outpatient surgery center, which means no overnight hospital stay is required. Patients report to the surgical center in the morning, undergo the procedure, and – following a recovery period under the care of medical professionals – return home later in the day.
After surgery, you will be transported to the recovery room for close observation of your vital signs and circulation. You may remain in the recovery room for a few hours.
When you leave the hospital, your knee will be covered with a bandage, and you may be instructed to walk with the assistance of crutches. You also may be instructed to ice or elevate your knee.
Your surgeon will likely provide further details regarding postoperative care for your specific procedure.
Steps for rehabilitation following a meniscus repair or an ACL procedure vary from physician to physician. To learn what activities will be involved in your own rehabilitation, consult your orthopedic specialist.