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A knee arthroscopy
is a procedure to look inside your knee joint with an arthroscope. An arthroscope is a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end. A knee arthroscopy is usually done to check for disease or damage inside your knee. These problems may be fixed during the procedure.
How to prepare for a knee arthroscopy:
- You may need an x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI before your procedure. These tests will take pictures of your joint and help your healthcare provider plan for your surgery. Arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
- Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your procedure. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection.
What will happen during a knee arthroscopy:
- You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given spinal anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With spinal anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel any pain.
- Your healthcare provider will make a small incision over your knee and insert the arthroscope. He may make 3 to 4 other small incisions in different places over your knee. Fluid will be injected into your knee to help your healthcare provider see things more clearly on the camera. Tools may be inserted through the incisions to fix problems in your knee. The incisions may be closed with stitches or strips of medical tape and covered with a bandage.
What will happen after a knee arthroscopy:
Healthcare providers will monitor you until you are awake. You may need an x-ray to look at your knee joint and monitor for complications. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Do not put weight or pressure on your leg that was operated on. You may be able to go home when your pain is controlled or you may need to spend a night in the hospital.
Risks of a 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. You may have swelling under your skin that prevents blood flow to the rest of your leg. You may need surgery to fix this problem. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
- You have trouble breathing.
Seek care immediately if:
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your stitches come apart.
- Your leg feels numb or cold and looks pale.
- Your leg is larger than normal, red and painful.
- You cannot move your leg or foot.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You have severe pain in your knee even after you take pain medicine.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or you have a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for your wound as directed:
Ask your healthcare provider when your wound can get wet. Carefully wash around the wound with soap and water. Allow soap and water to gently run over your incision. Do not scrub the incision. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. Check your wound every day for signs of infection such as swelling, redness, or pus.
- Apply ice on your knee for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Elevate your knee above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your leg on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably. Do not put pillows directly behind your knee.
- Wear your knee brace and pressure stockings as directed. Your brace will prevent your knee from moving and may help it heal. Pressure stockings put pressure on your legs to help blood flow and prevent clots.
- Keep weight off of your knee as directed. Use crutches or other assistive devices to keep pressure off of your knee. Ask your healthcare provider how long you need to keep weight off of your knee.
- Do not drive for 1 to 3 weeks or as directed. Your ability to drive may depend on the knee that was operated on, the type of car you drive, your pain level, and when you stop taking pain medicine. Do not drive while you are taking prescription pain medicine.
- Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. Ask your healthcare provider when you should start physical therapy.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.