March 14 22:30 2019 Print This Article

Arthroscopy is the internal examination of a joint, using a viewing instrument called an arthroscope. Local or general anaesthetic may be used for the procedure. The arthroscope magnifies the view and allows direct inspection of the surfaces of bones. ligaments and tendons within the joint cavity,and also the synovial ‘membrane that lines it. Some treatments, such as removal of damaged cartilage and repair of tom ligaments and tendons, can be carried out through the arthroscope. Patients are usually admitted to hospital for arthroscopy. The duration of the procedure and subsequent hospital stay depends on which joint is examined and, whether or not treatment of problems has taken place.

Arthroscopy can be helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of many noninflammatory, inflammatory, and infectious types of arthritis as well as various injuries within the joint. Arthroscopic surgical procedures are often performed on an outpatient basis and the patient is able to return home on the same day. Arthroscopy takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to perform. It is typically done on an outpatient basis, which means you will not have to spend the night in the hospital. Use of arthroscopy has reduced the need to surgically open the knee joint. This has resulted in less pain and stiffness, fewer complications, decreased length (if any) of hospitalization, and faster recovery time. Expectations vary widely with the indication for the surgery. Arthroscopy can also be used for surgery such as trimming or repair of a cartilage or removing loose bodies. Arthroscopy causes less damage to normal structures by requiring much smaller incisions through the joint capsule and ligaments around the joint. The arthroscope is used for both diagnosis and treatment.


Arthroscopy may be recommended for knee problems, such as:

  • A torn meniscus.
  • Misalignment of the knee cap.
  • A torn or damaged anterior cruciate or posterior cruciate ligament.
  • Loose bodies in the knee joint.
  • Mild arthritis.

Immediately after the arthroscopy

After the procedure, you can expect:

  • You will be offered pain medication.
  • Ice packs may be used to reduce swelling.
  • You can drink fluids straight away, as long as you don’t feel sick.
  • Health care workers will monitor your vital signs.


The risks for any anesthesia are:

  • Breathing problems.
  • Bleeding into the joint.
  • Knee stiffness.
  • Failure of the surgery to relieve symptoms
  • Infection.

Taking care of yourself at home

  • You may need to use crutches for a while (up to one week) to take the pressure off your knee joint.
  • A cold pack applied to the joint may help to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Avoid vigorous activity.
  • Most people can resume their normal activities around three weeks after the procedure, although this depends on individual factors.
  • Physiotherapy, including special strengthening exercises, may be needed.
  • It may be important to keep your weight in check. Follow all dietary recommendations.

Things to remember

  • Arthroscopy is commonly used to remove loose bone and cartilage and repair damaged tendons and ligaments.
  • Arthroscopy is the examination of the inside of a joint, using a special illuminating instrument inserted through a small incision or ‘portal’.
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