A cuff-like device that blows up (inflates) may be used around your thigh to help control bleeding during knee arthroscopy.
The surgeon will make two or three small cuts around your knee. Salt water (saline) will be pumped into your knee to stretch the knee.
A narrow tube with a tiny camera on the end will be placed inside through one of the cuts. The camera is attached to a video monitor in the operating room. The surgeon looks at the monitor to see the inside of your knee. In some operating rooms, the patient can also watch the surgery on the monitor, if they want to.
The surgeon will look around your knee for problems. The surgeon may put other medical instruments inside your knee through the other small cuts. The surgeon will then fix or remove the problem in your knee.
At the end of your surgery, the saline will be drained from your knee. The surgeon will close your cuts with sutures (stitches) and cover them with a dressing. Many surgeons take pictures of the procedure from the video monitor so that afterward you can see what was done and what was found.
Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the 2 weeks before your surgery:
You may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and other drugs.
Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
Tell your doctor if you have been drinking a lot of alcohol, more than 1 or 2 drinks a day.
If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor for help. Smoking can slow down wound and bone healing.
Always let your doctor know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you may have before your surgery.
On the day of your surgery:
You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 12 hours before the procedure.
Take your drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
After the Procedure
After the surgery, you will have an ace bandage on your knee over the dressing. Most people go home the same day they have surgery. Your doctor will give you an exercise program to follow.
Whether or not you have a full recovery after knee arthroscopy depends on what type of problem was treated.
Problems such as a torn meniscus, broken cartilage, Baker's cyst, and problems with the synovium are usually fixed easily. Many patients remain active after these surgeries.
Recovery from simple procedures is usually fast. You may need to use crutches for a while so that you do not put weight on your knee and to control pain. This will depend on what kind of surgery you had. Your doctor may also prescribe pain medicine.
Recovering from more complicated procedures will take longer. When anything in your knee is repaired or rebuilt, you may not be able to walk without crutches or a knee brace for several weeks. Full recovery may take several months to a year.
If you also have arthritis in your knee, you will still have arthritis symptoms after surgery to repair other damage to your knee.
Miller MD, Hart J. Surgical principles. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 2.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.