Commonly referred to as “scoping the knee,” knee arthroscopy provides orthopaedic surgeons
with a better solution for repairing damaged ligaments and cartilage compared to open
surgery. Large incisions associated with open surgery complicate orthopaedic procedures by
increasing the likelihood of infection; additionally, large incisions prolong the
post-operative recovery period, and also cause significant scarring. For sports injuries,
knee arthroscopy provides patients with results that allow them to return to the playing
field in a much shorter amount of time when compared to traditional open surgery.
Anatomy Of The Knee
The knee is made up of the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone), and the patella
(kneecap). The bottom of the femur attaches to the top of the tibia to form a swinging,
hinge-like joint. The two connecting ends of the bone are lined with cartilage, which
provides a smooth surface that lets the bones glide easily, by limiting friction. The
patella attaches and helps protect the joint formed by the tibia and femur. Ligaments attach
the knee joint to the surrounding muscles to provide additional support for the knee.
Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
In a knee arthroscopy procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision around the knee large
enough to insert the arthroscope, a fiber-optic camera that sends video images to a computer
monitor. This allows surgeons to repair the affected components by providing a sufficient
view of the operating field without making a large incision. In a second small incision, the
surgeon inserts the operating instruments, roughly pencil-sized, to perform the operation.
The surgeon uses the video imaging to navigate around the knee joint, allowing for precise
and accurate knee repair.
Knee arthroscopy is performed most commonly for the following treatments:
Repair or reconstruction of ligament tears / microfracturing (ACL tear, PCL tear)
Repairing / removing a torn meniscus
Loose body removal (floating bone and cartilage)
ACL Surgery Using Knee Arthroscopy
Tearing the knee’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one
of the most common sports-related injuries. Patients sustaining an ACL tear typically hear a
loud “pop”, and may report their knee “giving out” from underneath them. Knee swelling and
joint pain follow, making any activity involving the knee joint extremely painful.
Through a combination of noninvasive care, such as RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and
Elevation), physical medicine and rehabilitation, and knee arthroscopy, patients can restore
previous levels of activity and return to athletic endeavors. Schedule an appointment at Dr.
Haar’s Dr. Haar’s New York office, conveniently located in Manhattan, on the Upper East
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique, characterized by the introduction, through small incisions. This type of surgical technique offers more and better visualization and maneuvering solutions than open surgery. Thus, the complications of arthroscopy are minimal and recovery after arthroscopic surgery is faster and better.
The surgery is usually carried out under regional anesthesia, as it only requires one or two small incisions. One of these incisions serves to introduce the camera (arthroscope), the other for the instruments and to aspirate and illuminate the joint.
Diseases of various kinds and trauma can damage bone, cartilage, ligaments, menisci, tendons and muscles. Some of the situations that most frequently require arthroscopy to be diagnosed and / or treated are:
Injury to the cruciate ligament (anterior and posterior) of the knee.
Wear or degeneration of articular cartilage
Fragments, or loose bodies of bone, or cartilage in the knee.
Inflammations of the synovium (rheumatic diseases such as chondrocalcinosis)
To perform knee arthroscopy, in most cases, 2 incisions of 5 mm are made in the anterior face of the knee, through an incision the arthroscope is introduced, which is responsible for bringing the signal to the high-density monitor, the tip of the arthroscope lens is 4 mm; the other portal introduces the necessary equipment to perform the surgery, probes, tweezers, scissors, motorized equipment for shaving and suction.
Depending on the procedure to be performed, knee arthroscopy lasts between 45 minutes to an hour. When an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is performed, it can take up to 2 hours.
Regaining mobility and strength in the knee requires regular exercise, and most can be done at home. It is recommended that you do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise 2 or 3 times a day and may recommend starting a walking program.
If your knee swells or if it hurts when doing a particular activity, decrease the intensity or do not do it until you feel better. You should rest, apply ice, put on an elastic bandage and elevate your knee.