Knee arthroscopy: Getting back on your feet quickly

September 30, 2018

Ellie is an active 62-year-old retiree who loves to walk, bike and garden. When her ‘bad’ knee began to keep her from her favorite activities, a neighbor suggested she look into having knee arthroscopy. One week after having the minimally invasive procedure, Ellie was back to her morning walks and tending her flowers.

More than 80 percent of patients return to walking and other light activities within one week of having a knee arthroscopy, according to a recent study. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine reports more than 4 million knee arthroscopies are performed each year, making it one of the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States.

What the procedure entails

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure where a joint is viewed internally using a miniature camera. The camera is inserted through a small incision into the knee, allowing images to be sent to a television monitor. This provides the orthopedic surgeon with a clear view of the inside of the knee in order to diagnose and treat knee injuries. Technological advances have enabled the use of high definition monitors and high resolution cameras, making arthroscopy extremely precise.

If the diagnosis shows that surgical treatment is required, the arthroscopy allows the surgeon to feel, repair or remove damaged tissue in the knee. This is accomplished with the use of small surgical instruments, such as scissors, motorized shavers or other specialized devices inserted through other incisions in the knee. Repair procedures typically take approximately 30 minutes to an hour depending on the amount of repair required.

Arthroscopy is performed under local, regional or general anesthesia, depending on which method the anesthesiologist determines is best for each patient’s health condition. Post-operative care instructions are provided during recovery with follow-up appointments scheduled to monitor progress.

Advantages of a knee arthroscopy

This minimally invasive procedure offers many potential advantages over a traditional open knee surgery. A knee arthroscopy:

• Is performed on an outpatient basis, often minimizing downtime and cost

• May minimize pain and shorten recovery time

• May allow patients to return to normal activities quickly

Therapeutic exercise helps strengthen the knee and leg muscles after surgery and also helps to restore motion. Physical therapy may be recommended.

If you think you or a loved one would benefit from knee arthroscopy, discuss this option with your primary care physician. He or she can refer you to an orthopedic specialist.

Dr. Dustin Volkmer is an orthopedic surgeon with Columbus Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Clinic.