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Knee Arthroscopy

A Knee Arthroscopy may be considered as a surgical treatment option for those patients experiencing knee pain and/or mechanical symptoms such as clicking or locking of the knee.  Patients may require a knee arthroscopy following a diagnosis of a meniscal tear, loose bodies within the joint, cartilage that is worn and frayed, or to investigate unexplained knee pain.  The surgeon may diagnose these conditions following the examination of the knee with or without an MRI scan of the knee joint.

A knee arthroscopy is a form of ‘key hole’ surgery and requires the surgeon to make small incisions on either side of the knee.  The surgeon inserts a small, specialised camera into one side of the knee and specialized tools through the incision on the other side of the knee.  The camera enables the surgeon to look at the knee joint to confirm the diagnosis and the specialized tools allow the surgeon to address the damage in the joint, for example to trim or repair a torn meniscus, remove loose bodies in the joint or trim any frayed or torn cartilage. 

The aim of a knee arthroscopy is to minimise mechanical symptoms such as locking or catching as much as possible and reduce knee pain. 

The decision to proceed to surgery should be a collaborative one between you and your surgeon.  Your surgeon will discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery that will allow the patient to make an informed decision regarding proceeding to a knee arthroscopy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of a Knee Arthroscopy?

The aim of a knee arthroscopy is minimise any mechanical symptoms about the knee such as locking or catching as much as possible and reduce pain.

What are the risks of a Knee Arthroscopy?

There is a small risk of infection (<1%) and deep venous thrombosis (1%) after a knee arthroscopy.  Approximately 0.5% (1 in 200) patients who have pre-existing arthritis (even mild) who proceed to a knee arthroscopy experience an exacerbation of an arthritic type of pain after this procedure. Rarely is this permanent, most settling within 4 months.

What can I do to prepare for the surgery?

It is important that prior to your surgery you look after your skin and do no have any scratches, cuts or abrasions to minimise risk of a skin infection.

Cease medications such as ASPIRIN, WARFARIN or Fish oil at least ten days prior to your surgery.  If required Dr Prodger will liaise with your Cardiologist regarding blood thinning medication.

When can I go home from hospital?

A knee arthroscopy is performed as day surgery and patients can be discharged home on the day of their surgery if there are no complications.

What should I do when I get home from hospital?

Upon discharge from hospital you should be provided with pain medication to assist with management of your post-operative pain.  Regular icing of the knee for the first two weeks will assist with swelling. To avoid stiffness of the knee it is important to try to bend the knee and activate your thigh muscles, and you will be given an exercise sheet on leaving hospital.  Occasionally crutches are needed for a brief period of time.

How should I look after my wounds?

The incisions or small cuts on either of your knee joint have been closed with steri strips and a dressing is then applied over the steri strips.  A large bandage is then placed around the knee.  The large bandage comes off after 3 days.  Please keep the dressing over the steri strips on until your wound is reviewed at your two-week appointment with Dr Prodger.

What should I be concerned about after the surgery?

If you experience any of the following it is important to contact Dr Prodger or your GP soon as possible:

  • Swelling, warmth and redness of the knee
  • Ooze or leaking of the wound through the dressing
  • Fever or chills
What rehabilitation is recommended after a knee arthroscopy?

At the follow up appointment Dr Prodger will discuss the results of the arthroscopy, including reviewing the intraoperative photos of your knee. Further treatment such as physiotherapy will be discussed depending on the findings at surgery.

When can I go back to driving?

Most people can go back to driving between one and two weeks following surgery.  When you can return to driving depends on which leg was operated on, your pain levels and the type of condition that was operated on.  This should be discussed at your two-week appointment with Dr Prodger.

How long will I be off work?

If you have a sedentary job such as working in an office you should be able to return to work one to two weeks after your surgery.  If you have a heavy manual or physical job you may need up to four to six weeks off work.  This should be discussed with Dr Prodger at your two-week appointment.