Knee Arthroscopy
Regain Your Mobility

An arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) allows your surgeon to see inside your knee using a camera inserted through small cuts on your skin. Your surgeon can diagnose problems such as torn cartilage (meniscus), ligament damage and arthritis.
About your knee joint

The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. The knee joins the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The smaller bone that runs alongside the tibia (fibula) and the kneecap (patella) are the other bones that make the knee joint.

Tendons connect the knee bones to the leg muscles that move the knee joint. Ligaments join the knee bones and provide stability to the knee. Two C-shaped pieces of cartilage called the medial and lateral menisci act as shock absorbers between the femur and tibia.

About your knee arthroscopy

An arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) allows your surgeon to see inside your knee using a camera inserted through small cuts on your skin. Arthroscopy diagnoses several knee problems such as:

• torn meniscus (the cartilage between the bones in the knee)

• pieces of torn cartilage that are loose in the joint

• swollen synovium (the lining in the joint)
• torn anterior or posterior cruciate ligaments

• removal of a Baker’s cyst
• patella that is out of position

• fractures in the knee bones

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Self pay patients can pay the hospital direct for rapid access to premium services. You will have a number of treatment options which may affect your final bill. Please contact us if you wish to discuss this further.

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Deciding on knee arthroscopy

There are limited risks to the procedure and the outlook is good for most patients. The equipment used during an arthroscopy is very small, so only small cuts in the skin are needed. This means it has some advantages over traditional, "open" surgery, including:

• less pain after the operation

• lower risk of infection

• you may be able to return to normal activities more quickly

• faster healing time

• you can often go home the same day

What are the alternatives to Knee Arthroscopy

Damage inside your knee does not usually heal without treatment, although sometimes your knee becomes less troublesome after a course of physiotherapy. If you have a torn cartilage, the tear can sometimes cause your knee to lock. If your knee does not unlock again, you will need an urgent arthroscopy.

Preparing for your treatment

Smoking Cessation
Your surgeon will explain how to prepare for your operation. If you smoke, you will need to stop because it increases your risk of getting a chest and wound infection, which can slow your recovery.

Weight Loss
If you are overweight, it’s a good idea to try and lose weight. It may help to reduce the strain on your knee and lower your risk of complications of surgery.

If you take some types of medicines such as hormone replacement therapy, you might need to stop about four weeks before your operation. Tell your surgeon about any medicines you take so they can advise you.

The operation can be done under spinal or epidural anaesthesia. This completely blocks feeling from below your waist, but you will stay awake during the operation. Or you may be able to have the operation under general anaesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the operation. Your surgeon will let you know which type of anaesthesia is best for you.

An anaesthetic can make you sick so it’s important that you don’t eat or drink anything for six hours before a general anaesthetic. Follow your anaesthetist’s advice. If you have any questions, just ask.

Your surgeon will discuss with you what will happen before, during and after your procedure, and any pain you might have. This is your opportunity to understand exactly what will happen.

You may be asked to sign a consent form. Your surgeon may also ask you to give your consent to have your name on the National Joint Registry. This is used to follow up the safety, durability and effectiveness of joint replacements and implants.

Compression Socks
You may need to wear compression stockings during the operation to help prevent blood clots forming in the veins in your legs - deep vein thrombosis (DVT). You may also need to have injections of a medicine (or tablets) to prevent DVT.

Your Questions
You might find it helpful to prepare some questions to ask about the risks, benefits and alternatives to the procedure. This will help to inform you about the procedure so you can give your consent for it to go ahead.

What we do during your surgery

The operation usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.

Your surgeon will examine your knee ligaments while you are asleep and your muscles are completely relaxed. They will insert a small camera through one or more small cuts around your knee. The inside of your knee will be examined for damage to the cartilage, joint surfaces and ligaments. They will wash out any loose material caused by wear and tear of the joint surfaces. It is usually possible for your surgeon to trim or repair a torn cartilage without needing to make a larger cut. Your surgeon will close your skin with stiches or sticky strips.

What to expect afterwards

You might have some discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. But you will be offered pain relief as you need it. You may not be able to feel or move your legs for several hours after a spinal or epidural anaesthetic.

You will usually be able to get up as soon as you have recovered from the anaesthetic. You may need crutches to start with.

You should be able to go home the same day. However, your doctor may recommend that you stay a little longer.

If you do go home a responsible adult should take you home in a car or taxi and stay with you for 24 hours.

You will have a bandage on your knee which you should leave in place for two to three days. It is common for your knee to be a little swollen for a few weeks.

The healthcare team will tell you if you need to have any stitches removed or dressings changed.

Side-effects of knee arthroscopy

An arthroscopy is generally considered to be a safe procedure, but like all types of surgery it does carry some risks.

It is normal to experience short-lived problems such as swelling, bruising, stiffness and discomfort after an arthroscopy. These will usually improve during the days and weeks following the procedure.

Patients would recommend HMT Sancta Maria to friends and family

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Complications are when problems occur during or after the operation. Complications of knee arthroscopy can include the following:

The healthcare team will give you medication to control the pain and it is important that you take it as you are told so you can move around as advised.
Bleeding during or after the operation. If you get a lot of blood in your knee (a haemarthrosis), it will be swollen and painful. You may need another operation to wash the blood out.
Blood Clot
Developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in your leg - deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Your surgeon may prescribe you antibiotics during and after surgery to help prevent this.
Nerve Damage
Damage to nerves around your knee, leading to weakness, numbness or pain in your leg or foot.
Severe Pain
Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of your knee. You may need further treatment such as painkillers and physiotherapy. Your knee can take months or years to improve.

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Surgical Site Infections

Are there any sports I shouldn't do?

How long it takes to recover from an arthroscopy depends on the joint involved and the specific procedure you had.

It is often possible to return to work and light, physical activities within a few weeks, but more demanding physical activities such as lifting and sport may not be possible for several months.

Your surgeon or care team will let you know how long it is likely to take to recover and what activities to avoid until you have fully recovered.

What can I do to make my recovery easier?

It is important that you are as fit and healthy as possible before your operation. You can also prepare your home for when you return from hospital.

More information
If you are overweight or obese, it increases your risk of complications during and after knee surgery. So your surgeon might advise you to lose some weight before your operation.

It is also a good idea to exercise to prepare your upper body for using walking aids. And try to strengthen your leg muscles too, as it will help you recover. Ask your surgeon or physiotherapist for advice on the type of exercises to do.

Try to prepare your home for when you return from hospital. You could rearrange your furniture to make it easier to move around safely. And place items that you use often at arm level, so you do not have to reach for them. An occupational therapist is a good source of advice on aids for your home. Stock up on frozen or tinned food too so you do not need to go shopping immediately after your surgery. Or do an online shop to be delivered when you get home.

If possible, ask friends or family to stay with you for a couple of weeks after the operation to help you while you recover.

Your Consultants

At HMT Sancta Maria you will always see the same consultant throughout your patient journey.
We believe that this makes a world of difference to your experience with us.

"I would like to say a big thank you to Mr Alavala and his team and also the excellent staff at Sancta Maria Hospital. Nothing was too much trouble for them and my stay was made very pleasant due to their caring ways at a time when after an operation, was truly needed. Thank you also for all the little chats and laughs we had daily they were much appreciated and helped to aid my recovery. Once again thank you to you all you are truly amazing and each one of you a credit to nursing".

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