What is Knee Arthroscopy?

patient with knee anthroscopy treating by a doctor

Knee arthroscopy surgery is a medical technique in which a specialized device called an arthroscope is used to see, diagnose, and treat abnormalities within the knee joint. The arthroscope is a tiny, flexible tube that has a light source and a small camera on the end that allows surgeons to view the joint without making a big incision.

Considering it often involves just minor incisions around the knee rather than a wide-open cut, the surgery is considered less invasive. The surgeon can check numerous components within the knee during knee arthroscopy, including the cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and menisci. This enables the detection and treatment of a wide variety of knee diseases.

What Conditions Might Require Knee Arthroscopy Surgery?

The following are conditions that might require knee arthroscopy surgery.

  • Damage to Cartilage: When the smooth coating on the ends of the knee bones is damaged, arthroscopy is used as a therapeutic technique. The process might include removing loose cartilage pieces, smoothing down roughened cartilage surfaces, or using methods to encourage cartilage repair. These actions are intended to maximize joint function and reduce pain related to cartilage degradation.
  • Synovitis: The condition known as synovitis, which is an inflammation of the knee joint's synovial lining, is successfully treated using arthroscopy. To reduce inflammation and return the synovial membrane to a healthy state, the surgeon carefully eliminates inflammatory tissue. This method improves knee joint health overall, reduces discomfort, and increases mobility.
  • Meniscus Tears: Arthroscopy is a common treatment for tears in the meniscus, the wedge-shaped cartilage cushions that are essential for the stability of the knee joint. Through this minimally invasive treatment, doctors can precisely determine the kind and location of the tear. The next course of therapy might entail either surgically cutting the injured area to reduce pain and promote healing or mending the torn meniscus to restore its structural integrity.
  • Ligament Injuries: Surgical intervention is frequently required for injuries to the knee ligaments, such as the PCL or ACL. Surgeons use arthroscopy as a useful method to rebuild or repair injured ligaments. The goal of this precise surgery is to improve joint stability, expedite the knee's general rehabilitation, and restore the function of the ligaments.
  • Loose Bodies: Pain and limited range of motion may result from tiny pieces of bone or cartilage that have broken off and are floating inside the knee joint. A key tool in the accurate removal of these loose bodies is arthroscopy. This procedure not only reduces pain but also facilitates more fluid joint action by removing obstructions brought about by these pieces.
  • Plica Syndrome: The inflammation of the synovial membrane that characterizes this illness causes pain and discomfort. Using an arthroscopy, surgeons can treat this condition by removing the inflammatory tissue, which lessens discomfort and improves joint function.
  • Baker's Cyst: This bulge behind the knee is packed with fluid. To treat or remove the cyst, knee arthroscopy may be used in some circumstances. This may lessen swelling and any accompanying discomfort.

What Happens Before and After Arthroscopy Surgery?

Now, let’s take a look at the before and after of the knee arthroscopy procedure.

  • Preparation: The patient is positioned on the operating table so that the physician may reach the knee before the surgical operation starts. To reduce the danger of infection, the surgical team takes great care to clean and disinfect the skin surrounding the knee.
  • Placement of Incision: Around the knee joint, small incisions are deliberately created, usually measuring less than half an inch. Without making a big incision, the surgeon may reach the inside of the knee thanks to these incisions, which also act as entrance locations for surgical tools, such as the arthroscope.
  • Insertion of the Arthroscope: Through one of the tiny incisions, the arthroscope—a sophisticated tube with a camera and light source at its tip—is introduced. By sending crisp photos of the inside of the knee to an operating room display, this gadget serves as the surgeon's eyes.
  • Visualization and Diagnosis: The surgeon examines the internal anatomy of the knee joint with the arthroscope in situ. The monitor's real-time pictures aid in the diagnosis of any conditions, including meniscus tears, ligament damage, and cartilage difficulties, and they also direct the next line of treatment.
  • Methods of Treatment: The surgeon makes further incisions to implant specialist instruments and conducts appropriate operations based on the diagnosis. For instance, a torn meniscus can be cut or fixed, ligaments can be rebuilt or repaired, and damaged cartilage can be removed or smoothed out.
  • Dressings and Bandages: When a knee arthroscopy is finished, the surgeon carefully takes out all of the equipment before sealing the wounds. To maximize wound healing and reduce scarring, this important step is securing the incisions with adhesive strips or dissolvable stitches. The closed wounds are then covered with sterile dressings or bandages, which provide support and protection throughout the early phases of healing.
  • Recovery and Observation: Following a knee arthroscopy, patients are sent to a recuperation area. The effects of the anesthetic are wearing off, so medical professionals are keeping an eye on vital indicators like blood pressure and heart rate. Detecting any immediate postoperative issues and facilitating a safe and gradual waking from anesthesia all depend on this knee arthroscopy recovery time.
  • Postoperative Instructions: The surgical team provides comprehensive instructions following surgery, which include wound care, prescription medicine, and basic exercise regimens. It is essential to follow these recommendations to maximize results, minimize issues, and facilitate a smooth recovery process.
  • Follow-up: After surgery, planned checkups are essential for keeping track of the patient's development. The surgeon can evaluate healing, treat issues or difficulties, and jointly plan the next steps in the recovery process with the help of these follow-ups. Scheduling routine visits supports the patient's functional recovery and long-term well-being by providing complete postoperative care.

When Should One Consult with an Orthopedic Doctor?

It is advised to consult an orthopedic physician for a variety of musculoskeletal issues or if any complications of knee arthroscopy arise. Sports injuries, trauma, and chronic joint or muscle pain all require quick assessment to provide an appropriate diagnosis and course of therapy. Joint oedema or inflammation, as well as limited range of motion, may be signs of underlying problems. Patients with long-term orthopedic diseases, such as arthritis, benefit from continuing treatment. An orthopedic evaluation is necessary if there is numbness or tingling, particularly if there is accompanying pain. Evaluation by a specialist is necessary if there are noticeable abnormalities, unsuccessful prior treatments, and recurrent joint instability.


A very successful and minimally intrusive method for identifying and treating a variety of knee disorders is arthroscopy surgery. This technique allows for perfect viewing of the interior tissues of the knee with the use of an arthroscope and tiny incisions.  When deciding whether to do an arthroscopy, medical experts should thoroughly evaluate the patient's condition as well as their general health. The effectiveness of arthroscopic procedures is being improved by ongoing advancements in technique, making it a useful instrument in orthopedic therapy.