If you are suffering chronic knee pain or injury, you should get it examined by an orthopedic surgeon. A proper musculoskeletal examination and imaging will help determine if you require surgical intervention. If the doctor recommends surgery, then, it is important to decide whether an arthroscopic procedure or total knee replacement surgery is needed.
In total knee replacement, the surgeon makes an 8 to 10-inch-long vertical incision in the front and center of the knee to view and access the joint. However, in the arthroscopic procedure, the surgeon makes a smaller incision and uses a less invasive technique to access the joint, with the aim of minimizing tissue damage and post-operative pain.
However, unlike traditional total knee replacement, arthroscopic knee surgery may not be suitable for all the patients. After a thorough evaluation, your orthopedic surgeon can determine if arthroscopic surgery is a suitable option for you.
What is Knee Arthroscopy?
Knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows the surgeon to view the knee joint without making any large incisions through the skin and soft tissues. This procedure is used to treat many issues related to the knee.
During knee arthroscopy, the surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the knee joint. Pictures captured by the camera are displayed on a video monitor, which guides the surgeon to use miniature surgical instruments.
Since the arthroscope and surgical instruments used in the procedure are thin, the surgeon makes very small incisions (less than ¼ inch) rather than big incisions, which are usually made during open surgery. Because of this, patients experience lesser pain and faster recovery when compared to open surgery.
Why do I need knee arthroscopy?
If you have knee pain which is not responding to nonsurgical treatment, your doctor may recommend knee arthroscopy. Nonsurgical management includes rest, ice application, physical therapy, medications, or injections to reduce pain and inflammation.
Knee arthroscopy can relieve painful symptoms of many knee conditions in which cartilage and other soft tissues get damaged.
Arthroscopic surgery can be done for the following conditions:
- Removal of inflamed synovial tissue
- Removal or repair of a torn meniscus
- Trimming of damaged articular cartilage
- Treatment of patella (kneecap) problems
- Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage
- Reconstruction of a torn anterior cruciate ligament
- Treatment of knee sepsis (infection)
The main benefits of arthroscopic surgery include:
- Lesser damage to muscles and other soft tissues
- Lesser postoperative pain
- Lesser blood loss
- Smaller scar
- Quicker recovery
- Faster return to daily activities