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Operative Knee Arthroscopy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What do I need to know about an operative knee arthroscopy?

An operative knee arthroscopy is a surgery to fix damage or disease in your knee joint. An arthroscope is a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end.

How do I prepare for an operative knee arthroscopy?

  • You may need an x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI before your surgery. 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 surgery.
  • Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection.

What will happen during my surgery?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, 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 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 insert small tools into the other incisions. These tools will be used to fix the damage in your knee.

What will happen after my surgery?

Your healthcare provider 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 also give you exercises to do. He or she may have you go to physical therapy.

What are the risks of an operative 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

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.