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Knee Arthroscopy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about a knee arthroscopy?

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 do I 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. You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. Your provider will tell you which 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. Your provider 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.

What are the 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.

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Further information

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