Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure performed through small incisions, generally used to diagnose or treat joint problems. In other words, arthroscopy is to view the inside of the joint. Using a half-centimeter-thick fiber optic camera and devices, the inside of the joint structure is imaged on the monitor.
With arthroscopy, the problem in the joint can be diagnosed, and some joint damage can be repaired during arthroscopy. Arthroscopic surgery is most commonly used in the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle, hip, and wrist joints.
What is Arthroscopic Knee Surgery (Closed Knee Surgery)?
Knee joint is one of the largest and most complex joints in your body. Articular cartilage, thigh and shin bone, knee cap, meniscus and ligaments are the structures that form the knee joint and provide the movement of the knee. Any damage of these structures causes knee pain and limitation of knee range of motion. One of the methods used in the diagnosis and treatment of this damage is knee arthroscopy.
Knee arthroscopy, also known as closed knee surgery, is a surgical procedure that allows the doctor to view the knee joint without making a major surgical incision or open surgery. It is used to diagnose and treat various knee joint problems. Since the surgical instruments used for arthroscopic knee surgery are quite thin, smaller incisions are made compared to open knee surgeries. The procedure is performed without damaging the healthy structures around the joint. Thus, patients experience less pain and a faster recovery.
When is Knee Arthroscopy Recommended?
Knee arthroscopy may be recommended to diagnose or treat the condition causing the knee pain. Knee arthroscopy can be performed in the diagnosis of various knee problems such as:
- Meniscus tears
- Repair of joint ligaments
- Cruciate ligament tears
- Repair of damaged cartilage and bone structures in the knee joint
- Knee cap problems
However, not all causes of knee pain can be effectively treated with arthroscopic surgery. There may be damage to the knee joint cartilage that cannot be adequately repaired by arthroscopic procedure. Knee arthroscopy may not be beneficial in patients with advanced knee osteoarthritis.
In this case, patients may continue to experience pain after arthroscopic knee surgery. However, there are many surgical and non-surgical treatment methods that provide relief from pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
One of the common situations in which knee arthroscopy is performed is meniscus tear and repair. The meniscus is the piece of cartilage that support between the bones of the joint. Knee arthroscopy can be performed to relieve pain, remove and repair part of the damaged meniscus from the knee joint.
Arthroscopic surgery can also be applied in anterior cruciate ligament injuries. The knee has four main ligaments that act like strong strings to keep the bones stable and together. The anterior cruciate ligament is one of these four major ligaments. Anterior cruciate ligament rupture caused by sprains or sudden movements and causes complaints of pain, swelling and discomfort in knee movements. Anterior cruciate ligament repair is mostly performed with knee arthroscopy.
How is Knee Arthroscopy Performed?
Knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, meaning it is done without major surgical incisions, so it is also known as closed knee surgery. Knee arthroscopy can be performed under general or regional anesthesia. In regional anesthesia, only the knee on which the procedure will be performed is anesthetized, in general anesthesia you will be completely asleep. Your orthopedic doctor and anesthesiologist will give you information about which anesthesia method is most suitable for you.
After the anesthesia procedure, a few small incisions called “portals” are made in your knee to reach the knee joint. Since the thickness of the surgical instruments used in knee arthroscopy is usually around half a centimeter, the incisions are smaller than one centimeter.
Through these incisions, your surgeon inserts a small camera called an arthroscope into your knee joint, and the inside of the knee joint is displayed on the screen. Thus, the problem in your knee can be diagnosed and, if necessary, the damage in the joint can be repaired using small surgical instruments. The nerves, blood vessels and ligaments around the joint are not damaged during the procedure.
After the arthroscopic surgery, your knee is wrapped with a soft bandage. The knee arthroscopy procedure takes about an hour. However, the duration of the procedure may vary depending on the findings and the necessary treatment.
Recovery After Knee Arthroscopy
Knee arthroscopy has a more painless and easier recovery process than traditional open knee surgeries, as it is a procedure where small surgical incisions are made and healthy tissue is preserved. The incision scars, which are very small after arthroscopic surgery, almost completely disappear within a few months.
You can usually be discharged on the same day after knee arthroscopy, but it’s important to have someone with you to assist you on at least the first day and to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully after you return home.
It is normal to feel pain at first as a natural part of the recovery process after knee arthroscopy. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to reduce your pain. Applying cold to your knee with an ice pack is another way to help reduce swelling and minimize your pain. In addition to applying cold, placing a pillow under your leg and trying to keep it elevated will also help to reduce swelling and pain.
After knee arthroscopy, the incision sites are closed with dressing. Another thing to consider is keeping your bandage clean and dry. Your doctor will let you know when you can shower and when to change the dressing. In addition, you should come for a follow-up after knee arthroscopy and to start your post-operative treatment program.
Most patients require crutches or another assistive device to walk for the first time after arthroscopic surgery. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to put weight on your arthroscopy leg and walk without support. Regularly doing knee exercises and participating in physical therapy programs during the recovery period after knee arthroscopy will strengthen your leg and knee muscles and help you regain your mobility. A regular physical therapy program will allow you to get better results from knee arthroscopy.
What Are the Risks of Knee Arthroscopy?
Although rare, every surgical procedure has some risks. Conditions such as excessive bleeding, infection at the surgery site, allergic reaction to anesthesia or other drugs administered during the surgery are possible risks of every surgery.
Some the risks of knee arthroscopy;
- bleeding in the knee joint,
- blood clot formation in the leg,
- infection in the joint,
- stiffness in the knee,
- injury or damage to the cartilage, ligament, meniscus, blood vessels or nerves in the knee.
However, these are usually rare conditions, arthroscopic knee surgery performed by a reliable surgical team is considered a low-risk surgical procedure.
Arthroscopic knee surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed by orthopedic doctors. This procedure, which is performed by making small incisions and minimizing soft tissue damage, can help patients return to their daily activities and especially sports activities much earlier. However, it is important to know that knee arthroscopy is not suitable for all kinds of knee pain and joint problems, it is an important surgical procedure and requires an appropriate rehabilitation process.
Is knee arthroscopy the right option to achieve a successful result, what are the risks and what awaits you after the surgery, you can share your questions or concerns with us in the comment section below, or you can contact us.