Knee arthroscopy is one of the most frequently used orthopaedic procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of knee injuries. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows for the examination of the inside of the knee joint with an instrument called an arthroscope. There are wide ranges of conditions that can require and benefit from knee arthroscopy including: ligament injuries, meniscal tears, patella disorders or damaged cartilage.
The knee joint is formed by the junction of the femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone), and patella (kneecap). There are four main ligaments in your knee, which connect the femur to the tibia and give your knee its stability. Additionally, the articular cartilage and menisci of your knee provide the smooth surfaces and cushioning, respectively, which protect your knee and allow it to function naturally. It is often injuries to these structures that, if left untreated, can be precursors to long-term damage of the knee.
Diagnosis of injuries and conditions that require knee arthroscopy is often made clinically. X-rays and magnetic imaging studies (MRI) can also be helpful in confirming the diagnosis.
Once an injury is sustained, or a condition identified, treatment is focused on obtaining a full range of motion of the knee and allowing the swelling to subside. Once this occurs both conservative and operative treatment options can be exercised. Nonsurgical treatment includes rest, physical therapy, medications, or injections that can reduce inflammation and strengthen the knee joint.
Surgical management with knee arthroscopy involves making 2-3 small incisions around the knee joint where the arthroscope (camera) and other small surgical instruments can be inserted. Sterile solution is injected into the knee to give the surgeon an optimal image. Once a clear view of the inside of the knee is obtained the surgeon can then identify and repair any damage with specialized instruments. Recovery from a knee arthroscopy can vary largely based on the scope and scale of the procedure that was performed. The goal of this surgery is for the problem to be identified, diagnosed and treated in order for the patient to successfully return to full activity after recovery. A general guideline for knee arthroscopy rehabilitation can be found within the Rehabilitation Protocols and is dependent upon what is performed surgically.