Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows an orthopedic surgeon to see and operate inside a joint using a device called an arthroscope. The arthroscope is inserted through very small incisions in the skin. An arthroscope is a pen-shaped instrument to which a tiny video camera and light source is attached.
Joint surgery has improved greatly since the arthroscope was introduced. Surgery is less traumatic, healing is faster, scarring is reduced, and recovery is quicker. Only a number of tiny scars remain to show that surgery was ever done.
The knee is a hinged joint made up of three bones held firmly together by ligaments that stabilize the joint. The bones that meet at the knee are the upper leg bone (the femur), the lower leg bone (the tibia) and the knee cap (the patella). The bones inside the joint are lined by a smooth protective layer called articular cartilage, which allows the bones to glide smoothly upon each other. In arthritis, this smooth lining becomes damaged
Ligaments are dense structures of connective tissue that fasten bone to bone and stabilize the knee.
Inside the knee joint are two major ligaments
These cross in the center of the knee (that's why they're called cruciate ligaments) and control the backward and forward motion of the knee. The ACL is frequently injured in severe twisting injuries of the knee. Two other major ligaments are actually located outside the knee joint, on the outer and inner side of the leg. They act to stabilize the knee's sideways motion. The ligament on the inner side of the knee is called the medial collateral ligament or MCL (medial means inner side). The ligament on the outer side of the knee is the lateral collateral ligament or LCL (lateral means outer side). The two menisci act as shock absorbers within the knee and also help spread the weight load. The meniscus is a type of cartilage, though it is different than the cartilage that lines the bones. The menisci may be torn during twisting movements of the knee.
Arthroscopy is able to deal effectively with a number of problems in the knee joint.
You will most likely have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, which clearly will show the problem affecting your knee.
Q: What types of knee problems can arthroscopy help?
A: Arthroscopy may help relieve problems of persistent pain, catching, or swelling in your knee due to meniscal tears, cruciate ligament injuries or loose bodies in the knee.
Q: Why is my knee prone to injury?
A: There are many soft tissue components to the knee, making it vulnerable for various types of injuries. The knee is the largest joint in the body, and one of the most easily injured..
Q: What's the advantage to having local instead of general anesthesia?
A: While the risk of problems with any type of anesthesia is small, there are fewer risks associated with local anesthesia than with general. In addition, local anesthesia is less expensive than general, and recovery in most cases is quicker.
Q: My doctor told me I've injured my cruciate ligament. Does this mean I have to have surgery?
A: Not all cruciate ligament injuries need to be reconstructed. You need to discuss with your doctor your lifestyle and level of activity. If you have a sedentary-type job and are not active in your leisure time, you may not require surgery.
Q: Do knee injuries from playing sports happen only to professional athletes?
A: Unfortunately, knee injuries during sports can happen to anyone. A casual game of soccer can turn into a painful and debilitating injury for someone whose body is unprepared for athletics. Knee injuries can happen during an impromptu volleyball game at your company picnic, when your are heading out to the ski slopes on your first free weekend in a while, or even while playing a game of catch with your children.
Q:How much physical therapy will I need after the ACL reconstruction
A: One of the main priorities after ACL reconstruction is to regain the knee range of motion. This along with establishing a good strengthening program is usually best done two to three times per week for the first four to six weeks. Because many insurance policies will not cover this many visits to the therapist, an independent home program may need to be instructed earlier. Compliance in performing the exercises in and out of the clinic is the key.
Q: I like to snow and water ski. Can I still do these activities after ACL reconstruction?
A: Unless the surgeon advises otherwise, most people return to enjoying both of these sports with the use of a brace. However, remember every individual injury is different. Following the recommendations of the surgeon is of utmost importance.
Putting It All Together
Here are definitions of medical terms related to arthroscopy of the knee.
Menisci: crescent-shaped piece of tissue found in the knee joint.
Ligament: fiborus bands that hold bones together in the joint region.
Knee Joint: the juncture of the point of the femur and tibia.