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Diagnostic Knee Arthroscopy


What is a diagnostic knee arthroscopy?

A diagnostic knee arthroscopy is a procedure to look inside your knee joint. An arthroscope is a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end. Diagnostic arthroscopy is usually done to check for disease or damage inside your knee.

How do I prepare for a diagnostic knee arthroscopy?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your procedure. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. You may need to stop taking medicines that increase your risk for bleeding, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Your healthcare provider will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. Make arrangements to have someone drive you home and stay with you for a day after your procedure.

What will happen during my procedure?

  • You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection. You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during your procedure. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the procedure area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure, but you should not feel any pain. Another option is regional anesthesia. Regional anesthesia will keep you numb from the waist down during your procedure. Your healthcare provider will discuss which option is best for you.
  • Your healthcare provider will make a small incisions on your knee. He or she will rinse out the fluid that is in your knee. This will help him or her see your joint better. The arthroscope will be inserted into one of the incisions. The picture from the scope will be seen on a monitor. Your healthcare provider will examine your knee joint. He or she may repair damage or take tissue for a biopsy.

What will happen after my procedure?

Your healthcare will use stitches to close the incisions. A compression bandage will be placed on your knee to help decrease swelling. You may need crutches or other devices to keep from putting full weight on your knee. You will have some pain. Keep your knee elevated and ice on it as directed by your healthcare provider. You will not be able to drive for some time. Your healthcare provider may give you exercises to do. He or she may have you go to physical therapy.

What are the risks of a diagnostic knee arthroscopy?

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. You may have pain or knee stiffness. Blood may collect around your knee. You may need to have more knee surgery in the future. You may get a blood clot in your leg. The clot may cause life-threatening problems.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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