6850 W. Centennial Drive, Tinley Park, IL 60477
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Specialties: Knee Arthroscopy Procedure Overview

An arthroscopy can take from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on how much work your surgeon needs to do inside your knee joint. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will make small cuts in the skin around your knee joint. A sterile fluid is pumped into your joint to help produce a clearer picture and then the arthroscope is inserted.

Your surgeon will examine your knee joint by looking at images sent by the arthroscope to a monitor. If necessary, other instruments can be inserted to repair any damage or remove material that interferes with movement or causes pain in your knee.

Afterwards, the fluid is drained out and the cuts are closed with stitches or adhesive strips. Then a dressing and a bandage is wrapped around the knee.

What to Expect Afterwards

Recovering from Knee Arthroscopy

Apply an ice pack to your knee for the next 24-48 hours. You can use a commercially available ice pack, or a bag of frozen peas or corn works just as well — just cover with a towel. Use for 20-30 minutes at a time, 3 times a day.
A soft bandage and stocking has been placed on your knee in order to soak up any blood or fluid. You may take the bandage off in 48 hrs. and place clean band- aids over the 2 or 3 small wounds on your knee. Bruising may appear on your thigh or calf over the next few days — this is normal.

It is safe to shower 72 hours after surgery. You may wash the incisions with regular soap and water, dry them, and recover with new band-aids. You should not, however, soak your knee under water for at least 2 weeks after surgery. Activities such as soaking your knee in a hot tub or swimming pool should not be attempted for at least 2 weeks.

Low-grade fevers (less than 101º) are common after surgery. These fevers should go away a few days after surgery as you start to move around more. If your fever persists for more than a few days, or your wounds have a large area of redness around them (more than the size of a quarter), contact my office.

For the first 48 hours after surgery, inhale deeply and hold your breath for 3 seconds, then exhale completely. Repeat 10 times, 4 times daily. If you smoke, avoid cigarettes for 48 hours after surgery. This might be a good time to consider stopping smoking altogether!

Any prescriptions you are given after surgery should be filled immediately and taken according to the directions on the label. The pain medications given to you can frequently cause: constipation, fatigue, nausea, and itching. For these reasons, we recommend that you try to switch to an anti-inflammatory medicine ("NSAID") and Tylenol for pain relief as soon as possible. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) — take only one type of these with meals, and only if you have been able to tolerate them in the past and do not have stomach or kidney problems.

Please take 81 mg aspirin daily if not allergic for 2 weeks post surgery.

Activity

Immediately after surgery you should return home and limit your activity over the next 48 hours. You may bear weight as tolerated on your leg. You may discontinue the crutches when comfortable. You should not participate in athletics of any kind until you have been cleared to do so.

Exercises should include:

  1. Bending and straightening your knee as far as comfort will allow, 20 repetitions, 4 times a day.
  2. Straight leg raises - Lie on your back and lift your leg 10-12 inches off the ground with the knee straight and hold for 5 seconds, 20 repetitions, 3 times per day.

Driving is discouraged for 3 to 5 days following surgery. Do not drive if you cannot move your right leg comfortably or if you are taking narcotic pain medication. Patients may return to work or school as soon as they feel able. All industrial patients will need a written release to return to work. This will be discussed on your first post-operative visit.

Please call the office during office hours to make your first follow-up visit, which should be 7 to 10 days after surgery, unless you are instructed otherwise.

What are the risks?

Knee arthroscopy is commonly performed and generally safe. However, in order to make an informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications of this procedure.

Side-Effects

These are the unwanted, but mostly mild and temporary effects of a successful treatment, for example feeling sick as a result of the general anesthetic.

After a knee arthroscopy you will have small scars on your knee from the cuts.

Complications

This is when problems occur during or after the operation. Most people aren't affected. The possible complications of any operation include an unexpected reaction to the anesthetic, excessive bleeding or developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in the leg (DVT).

Arthroscopy complications can include:

The surgery may not be successful or it may have to be repeated

The exact risks are specific to you and differ for every person, so we haven't included statistics here. Ask your surgeon to explain how these risks apply to you.

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Last Modified: June 24, 2014