Knee Arthroscopy in Coeur d'Alene / Spokane, WA
Arthroscopy enables the examination of a joint's interior through the use of a fiber-optic camera, which has been inserted through a small incision. A live feed of the joint's interior will be broadcast via a monitor in the operating room, allowing your orthopedic surgeon to execute precise diagnostic and treatment efforts.
A product of the Greek terms "arthro" (joint) and "skopein" (to look), arthroscopy translates directly as "to look into the joint". This method, which may be employed for both preliminary examination and actual treatment, allows you to avoid the use of large incisions and more invasive techniques in the care of knee-based conditions.
Anatomy of the Knee
The knee is comprised of three main components: the femur, tibia, and patella. Joined at the knee, these bones are connected by a series of tendons, ligaments, and muscles that provide support and engage for joint movement. The centrally located meniscus, a block-like piece of cartilage, acts as a shock absorber and provides comfort during the range of your physical activities.
Injuries to the knee may result from a single traumatic event; however, gradual wear-and-tear can contribute to discomfort and pain. Likewise, knee damage may impact the entire joint area, or just a single component. Your orthopedic surgeon will be able to assess the severity of your case, and diagnose the level of treatment needed for successful recovery.
Conditions for Arthroscopic Treatment
A range of knee injuries and conditions may be treatable by means of arthroscopy. Whenever possible, this minimally invasive approach will be used in the care of:
- Meniscus and cartilage tears
- Cartilage breakdown (chondromalacia)
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears
- Bone fragment removal
- Synovial tissue repair
In some cases, if arthroscopy is used to diagnose the damage, further treatment may be implemented during the same surgery, removing the need for multiple surgical procedures.
The Surgical Process
The majority of knee arthroscopy procedures are completed on an outpatient basis. Arriving at the hospital one or two hours before surgery, you will meet with an anesthesiologist to determine the best approach for your unique operation:
- Local: Numbs your knee only
- Regional: Numbs you from the waste down
- General: Renders you fully asleep
Once the selected level of anesthesia is applied and active, your orthopedic surgeon will sterilize the treatment area, make the necessary incisions, and insert the camera for examination. Once the issue is diagnosed, small tools (such as scissors, shavers, and/or lasers) will be inserted via a secondary incision and used to correct any damage. While many cases can be treated immediately following diagnosis, in more severe cases, you may be recommended for a more invasive surgical approach.
Most arthroscopic procedures last 30 minutes to an hour, followed by 1-2 hours in a recovery room setting. The incisions will be closed using stiches or adhesive strips, as well as covered by a soft, sterile bandage.
Recovery from Knee Arthroscopy
Due to the need for minimal cutting, arthroscopic knee operations often provide patients with reduced pain and faster recovery times (as compared to more traditional, invasive approaches). However, during the days immediately following surgery, it will be important to take precautions to avoid aggravating or causing re-injury to your knee.
Elevating your knee and applying ice will lower the level of swelling, as well as potentially relieve post-op pain. Efforts should be made to keep the incision areas clean, in order to avoid either infection or the accidental damage of stiches/adhesive. While arthroscopy-related complications are not common, you should notify your orthopedic surgeon immediately should any of the following occur:
- Fever and/or chills
- Unusual knee warmth or redness
- Persistent, advanced pain
- Advanced swelling
- Pain in the calf muscle
For full recovery following knee arthroscopy, you will likely be prescribed a combination of pain relievers, at-home exercises, and physical therapy. To ensure both short and long-term success, it will be important that you follow the suggested regimen, as well as complete regular follow-ups with your orthopedic team.
Last Modified: September 14, 2011