Arthroscopic Surgery for the Knee

Arthroscopic surgery may be performed. Surgery may involve reconstruction of the damaged ligament using a strip of tendon from the patient's knee (patellar tendon) or hamstring muscle. A cadaver graft or allograft can also be used. The surgeon may determine to secure the new ligament with an implantable fixation device. A physical therapy program will usually follow the surgery in order to strengthen the muscles and restore full joint mobility.

Arthroscopy is a technique that allows surgeons to visualize, diagnose and treat a variety of joint problems. Ligament tears, meniscal tears, damaged and loose cartilage, and many other conditions can all be treated arthroscopically. Arthroscopy is performed using an arthroscope, a small optic instrument that enables a close look at the inside of a joint through a small skin incision.

Arthroscopic surgery was developed as a way to avoid making long skin incisions. While the long incisions allowed surgeons to fully visualize the joint, the subsequent disruption of tissue created long healing times, increased risk of infection and resulted in long scars.

Recovery

Arthroscopic surgery rarely takes more than an hour or two for isolated injuries. Most patients who have arthroscopic surgery are discharged within the same day. The small skin incision wounds take several days to heal. Several follow-up appointments may be necessary. Typically, during the first of these, the physician removes the sutures, tape or stitches. The patient can usually resume daily activities within a few days, but the injury may require several weeks to months to fully recover.

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