Knee Arthroscopy

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Knee Arthroscopy (Meniscus/Cartilage)

A repair to your meniscus or cartilage is called a knee arthroscopy. If you are considering any type of repair to your meniscus or cartilage, here is what you’ll need to know.

What is a Knee Arthroscopy?

A knee arthroscopy, a surgical technique, diagnoses and treats problem with your knee joint. The surgical procedure allows your surgeon to make a small incision into your knee and slide in an arthroscope, or small camera. The tiny camera allows your surgeon to view the inside of your knee on a screen. During the procedure, your surgeon can use instruments to explore your knee and make any corrections.

This surgical procedure can diagnose many knee problems, including a misaligned patella, or kneecap, or torn meniscus. It can even be used to repair your joint ligaments. A knee arthroscopy has a limited number of risks and has a good outcome for many patients.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Knee Arthroscopy?

The amount of time you need to recover will depend on the seriousness of your knee problem and how complex the procedure is.

Dr. Doerr Orthopedic Surgeon

Why Might You Need a Knee Arthroscopy?

You may need to undergo a knee arthroscopy because your physician has already determined what condition is causing your knee pain and believes you would benefit from the procedure. Typical conditions treated with this surgery include:

  • Torn meniscus, which is a tear between the bones in your knee
  • Torn posterior cruciate ligament
  • Torn anterior cruciate ligament
  • Piece or pieces of torn cartilage loose in your knee joint
  • Patella out of the proper position
  • Swollen synovium, which is the lining in your knee joint
  • Fracture or multi-fractures in the knee bones
  • Remove a Baker’s cyst

If your physician does not know the reason for your knee pain, they may order the knee arthroscopy to help determine the issue.

How Do I Prepare for a Knee Arthroscopy?

Your surgeon or physician will advise you how to specifically prepare for your knee arthroscopy. In the mean time here are a few tips to consider:


You will be advised to tell your physician or surgeon about any over-the-counter medications, prescriptions or supplements you are taking. They may tell you which medications you need to stop taking prior to the procedure. For example, they may instruct you to stop taking ibuprofen or aspirin for days or weeks prior to your knee procedure.


It is typical to expect you to stop drinking or eating anything for 12 hours prior to the procedure.

Post-Surgery Prescriptions

It’s important to be proactive. Fill all needed prescriptions before your surgery so you have them available to your after your knee arthroscopy.

Your Home

Wisely use your time prior to surgery by making sure your home is conducive to rehabilitation, including an area for home therapeutic exercises.

What are the Risks/Potential Complications of Knee Arthroscopy?

Every procedure has risks. Knee arthroscopy is no different.

The general risks associated with this surgical procedure include, but are not limited to:

  • Infection at the site of your knee incision
  • Excessive bleeding during your knee procedure
  • Difficulty breathing caused by anesthesia
  • An allergic reaction to medications administered during the procedure such as anesthesia

The specific risk to undergoing a knee arthroscopy include:

  • One or more blood clots forming in your leg
  • Bleeding in your knee joint
  • Infection in your knee
  • Damage or injury to the ligament, cartilage, blood vessels, meniscus or nerves in your knee
  • Stiffness in your knee

What Happens During Knee Arthroscopy Treatment or Surgery?

When your procedure begins, your surgeon will make a couple of tiny cuts in your knee. Saline, also called sterile salt water, will be pumped into your knee. This will expand your knee and make it easier for your surgeon to look at your knee joint.

Your surgeon will then place the tiny camera into one of the cuts made in your knee to look around your joint. Once the surgeon locates the problem area in your knee, they will then insert small surgical tools into your knee to correct your knee problem. They will also take pictures of the procedure while they are finding and correcting your knee problem. You will be able to see the pictures post-surgery. After your procedure, your surgeon drains the saline from the joint. The last part of the procedure involves closing the cuts in your knee with stitches.

Will I Recieve Anesthesia During Surgery?

Prior to your knee surgery, you will receive an anesthetic. The anesthesia includes a general anesthesia to put you completely to sleep, local anesthesia to numb you from the waist area down, or local to numb your knee.

The physician may choose not to give you the general anesthesia. If you are awake during the procedure, you can watch the surgery on the monitor.

Dr. Doerr Orthopedic Surgeon

What Happens during Recovery or Rehabilitation?

The time it takes to recover depends on the person. Knee Arthroscopy it is not an invasive surgery, so you will go home the same day you have the procedure. Recovery includes using an ice pack on your knee along with keeping it covered with a dressing. The ice minimizes your pain and reduces your swelling.

Once you are at home, have someone to care for your needs for the first day or so. You want to elevate your leg for one or two days to reduce your pain and swelling. You must change your knee dressing too. It will require to be clean in order to avoid any infection in the knee area.

Your surgeon or physician will provide more specific instructions on what you need to do and how long your recovery time may take. You will have a return visit with your surgeon to check the progress of your recovery two weeks after the procedure.

The last part of your recovery involves an exercise regimen. This exercise regimen will either be done at home or with a physical therapist. You must perform the exercises because they will restore your full range of motion. The exercise regimen will also strengthen your leg muscles. By completing the exercise regimen and proper aftercare, your prognosis should be outstanding.

Orthopedic Specialists

Jeffrey Hessing, MD and Timothy Doerr, MD have a passion for helping others. They have a combined 50 years of orthopedic excellence dedicated to the people of the Boise area. All of our surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Doerr

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