Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
Arthroscopy or ‘keyhole surgery’ of the knee involves making an incision, approximately 1cm
over the front of the knee in order to examine the internal structures using a camera.
Additional incisions may be made to allow the introduction of instruments to treat a wide
variety of conditions affecting the knee.
Knee arthroscopy is usually performed as a day case procedure. You will be given a time
and date for your surgery along with any special instructions. Please ensure that you bring
any x-rays or scans to the hospital on the morning of the operation. Both the surgeon and
anaesthetist will see you before the operation. They will explain the procedure and ask you
to sign a consent form. You should confirm which knee is to be operated on and take the
opportunity to ask for more information if you wish. At the end of your operation the knee will
be filled with local anaesthetic to help with pain relief.
After the Operation
Your knee will be bandaged before you go home. You should leave the bandage on for 48
hours. If you wish to take a shower, tape a plastic bag over the knee. After 48 hours you can
bath or shower normally. Let the adhesive strips peel off the puncture sites. Usually the
puncture sites are dry by 48 hours following arthroscopy. Occasionally the puncture sites
may leak, in which case you can use a band-aid to cover them.
When the anaesthetic wears off you should expect some pain in the knee but this should not
be severe. If you experience pain you should use the tablets provided and elevate the leg.
Applying an ice pack to the knee may also be helpful. Some swelling is to be expected and it
may actually increase gradually for the first 2-3 days. If the bandage feels too tight please rewrap it.
You will be able to walk when you go home but you should plan to rest up for the first 48
hours. During this time you should concentrate on working on the movement of the knee
rather than walking or standing for long periods. After 48 hours you can increase your
activity according to how the knee feels.
If you have a sedentary job you may return to work when you can walk unaided with
reasonable comfort. You should be able to drive a car at this time but must have full control
of your leg. If your job involves heavy manual work you should wait until you receive
clearance at the follow-up check.
When you leave the hospital you should have an appointment card with a time for your
follow-up check at the clinic. If not, telephone to make an appointment.
Although the risks of arthroscopy are minimal no procedure is entirely risk-free. Possible
complications of arthroscopy include anaesthetic complications, wound and joint infections
and deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in the calves. It is possible to have some
numbness around the scars but this usually becomes less noticeable with time.