Arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure in which a joint (arthro-) is viewed (-scopy) using a small camera. Using this technique, I am able to gain a clear view of the inside of the knee, helping me to diagnose and treat knee problems. Arthroscopy is usually done through two small incisions around the knee, through which a camera and small instruments can be inserted into the knee to feel, repair or remove damaged tissue.
Knee Arthroscopy: Day of Surgery
You will be admitted on the day of surgery. My assistant will provide you with the admission time and fasting details. Knee arthroscopy is generally performed as a day case, meaning you will be able to go home the same day as your surgery. The Anaesthetist will see you prior to surgery, usually on the day of surgery itself, but they might contact you prior to this to discuss your medical history with you. If you have any specific questions you would like to discuss with the Anaesthetist, please ask my assistant for their contact details.
Knee Arthroscopy: Post Operative Care
After your operation
Recovery from knee arthroscopy is much faster than recovery from traditional open knee surgery. Still, despite the small incisions used in arthroscopic surgery, the amount of surgery done within the knee is the same as a full open procedure.
You will be discharged with medications or a prescription for pain relief, and nursing staff at the hospital will be able to give you information regarding the general care of your knee.
You may get up and use the leg freely. In most cases you are able to walk on your leg with full weight bearing. Crutches are normally not necessary, but if you require them the nurse in hospital will be able to organise them for you.
Most often, you will be able to leave the hospital the same day as your procedure, once you have woken and recovered. If you require an overnight stay this can be arranged (eg country patients).
First 2 Weeks
There will be some dressings and bandages on your knee post-operatively. The bulky crepe and wool bandages can be taken off your knee at 24-48 hours post-operatively. There will be two adhesive dressings over the portal sites on the knee, these should stay on until your follow up appointment with me at two weeks post-op. If the dressings get wet or dirty, then simply remove them and put another one on. On discharge, you will be given some Tubigrip (elastic knee support) and you can use this for the first 4-6 weeks post-operatively, or until swelling of your knee isnít a problem. It may be removed for showering, and for icing. This elastic bandage is helpful to reduce the swelling in your knee.
Regular icing of your knee is helpful to reduce pain and swelling post-operatively. You should aim to ice your knee for 20 minutes, 4-6 times per day, depending on the level of swelling you have.
Knee Arthroscopy: Pain Relief
You will be given pain relief during your inpatient stay and either medication or prescriptions to go home with to keep you comfortable. In general, regular paracetamol and an anti-inflammatory (if tolerated) are the mainstays of pain relief for you. You will be given some stronger medications which can be helpful in the early post-operative phases, but these can be phased out as your comfort level increases.
Knee Arthroscopy: Physiotherapy and Exercise
In general, no specific physiotherapy is required after knee arthroscopy. If you do require physiotherapy, I can help you arrange this at your follow-up appointment approximately two weeks after surgery. Range of motion exercises can be helpful post-operatively. Simple bending and straightening exercises should be sufficient for you to achieve your required range of motion in the knee. Otherwise, it is helpful to improve your quadriceps muscle strength by performing Straight Leg Raises. The leg should be held straight, raised and held for 2-3 seconds then lowered. This should be repeated 10 times, making one set of 10. Ten such sets should be performed three times per day – that is 100 lifts, 3 times a day!
Knee Arthroscopy: Driving
Times to return to driving vary. If you drive an automatic and your left knee is being operated on, your return to driving might be faster. However, in general, plan to avoid driving for two weeks after your surgery. You can return to driving once you have regained motion in the knee, control of the knee, and feel safe on the road.
Knee Arthroscopy: Follow Up
My assistant will make your follow-up appointment with you at the time of booking of your surgery. In general, I will see you approximately two weeks after your surgery. If you are unsure of your follow-up appointment, please call my assistant on 08 9212 4292.
Knee Arthroscopy: Return to Work
Return to work times vary depending on the nature of your work and what was done at surgery. In general, you should plan to have 1-2 weeks off work to allow you to manage your swelling and pain.
Knee Arthroscopy: Problems
Superficial infection is not very common but can happen. It usually presents as redness and increased pain around the wound, and generally resolves with a short course of antibiotics.
Deep knee infection is rare. However, if it does happen you will need admission to hospital, with washing out of the knee and high dose intravenous antibiotics commenced immediately. It usually presents between 5-10 days post-operatively, with increased pain (rather than the general improvement in pain levels), increased swelling and marked decrease in your range of movement.
If you are concerned about an infection, please contact me as soon as possible. During business hours the best point of contact is via my assistant on 08 9212 4292. After hours, please contact the hospital where you had your surgery, and ask them to get in touch with me. Failing this, present to your local Emergency Department for review.
Other problems such as excessive pain, bleeding or clots in your legs (deep vein thrombosis) after arthroscopy are very rare. If however you are concerned about your progress please contact my rooms and we will be able to advise you.
If you have an issue with your knee, please make an appointment to discuss your treatment options.