What exactly is knee arthroscopy used for?

What exactly is knee arthroscopy used for?

Knee arthroscopy is a common procedure that helps with the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of knee problems. It is a surgical technique through which an orthopedic surgeon is able to look inside the knee joint. During a knee arthroscopy, the orthopedic surgeon inserts a small camera called arthroscope inside the knee joint. Doing this allows the surgeons to view the inside of the joint on a screen. During the same procedure, the surgeon can use small tools attached to the arthroscope to correct the identified issues. A patient may be required to undergo knee arthroscopy because of a number of reasons, including a torn meniscus or a misaligned patella. The same procedure is also used for repair and reconstruction. This article focuses on some of the uses of knee arthroscopy.


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An orthopedic doctor may recommend an arthroscopy when he or she suspects a specific condition. This usually happens when you present yourself at the doctor’s clinic with chronic or acute knee pain. The doctor may have already diagnosed the condition and may an arthroscopy to conduct repair or this procedure may solely be conducted with a vision to repair the targeted areas in the knee.  Knee arthroscopy is conducted when the doctor wants to confirm the originating source of pain and at the same time, wants to fix it. Arthroscopic surgery is used for the diagnosis and treatment of a number of conditions and for specific actions. Some of these include the following:

  • Fractures in the knee bones
  • Swelling in the lining of the joint
  • Baker’s cyst removal
  • Tear in the cartilage between the knee bones (meniscus tear)
  • Tear in the anterior or posterior cruciate ligaments
  • Displaced patella
  • Cartilage Tear
  • Treatment of knee infection (sepsis)
  • Trimming of damaged knee cartilage
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction
  • Removal of loose fragments of cartilage and bones

For what type of conditions is arthroscopy considered?

Arthroscopy is useful in the case of all types of knee diseases and disorders. It aids in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of infectious, inflammatory, and non-inflammatory arthritis. Additionally, it also helps in the treatment and diagnosis of knee injuries, as highlighted in the section above.  Non-inflammatory degenerative arthritis, commonly known as osteoarthritis, is also diagnosed with the help of arthroscopy. In the case of knee osteoarthritis, the affected cartilage appears frayed and irregular. The same procedure is also used when rheumatoid arthritis is suspected.

Surgical knee arthroscopy is also used to remove a sample of tissue lining the joint. This sample is biopsied and examines under a microscope to identify whether the inflammation is due to an infection, such as tuberculosis. More importantly, arthroscopy is useful in cases where it is not possible to diagnose the condition simply through aspiration. It is helpful when an analysis of the joint fluid yields no fruitful results.


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Arthroscopy versus Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Both these techniques include the use of an arthroscope, which is actually a small tube containing lenses and optical fibers. During both these procedures, the doctor inserts an arthroscope through the tiny incisions made on either side of the knee joint.  If specific procedures are performed while examining the knee joint using an arthroscope, it is known as a arthroscopic knee surgery. The technique is known as simple arthroscopy when the doctor performs the procedure with an aim to just diagnose the condition.

The arthroscope has a video camera, which records and shows the interior of the knee joint on a television monitor. The arthroscope that the doctor uses to examine the knee joint is around 5 millimeters in diameter. Arthroscopes come in different sizes, depending on which joint in the body is supposed to be examined.

Benefits of Knee Arthroscopic Surgery

  • Minimal scarring
  • Outpatient procedure (mostly)
  • Reduced pain and swelling
  • Less tissue trauma
  • An improved motion of the knee
  • Fewer risks and complications compared to open surgery
  • Minimal recovery period
  • Quick functional recovery

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Last modified on blank at Sep 02, 2019


Guneet Bhatia

Guneet Bhatia is an avid reader, healthcare writer, and is currently Director of Patient Care Department, MediGence. She has also been featured on many prominent Healthcare portals such as IBTimes, HCIT Expert, Clinician Today.


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