An arthroscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end designed to be inserted through a small incision into joints such as the knee. A video image is then transmitted to a monitor in the operating room. This allows the surgeon to see a magnified, real-time image of the joint without the need to fully open up the area.
By doing this, surgeons can avoid having to sever muscles, tendons, and ligaments which would be required in traditional open knee surgery. This can help surgeons perform the following types of procedures:
- Diagnostic evaluations to see the damage that might not show up on an MRI or other imagery
Removal or repair of knee cartilage, such as a torn meniscus
- Repair of ligaments such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Removing synovial tissue that has become inflamed
Removing loose bone and cartilage fragments
Most procedures last about an hour or less but can vary from patient to patient. Upon recovery, patients can typically return home within an hour or two after receiving detailed post-operative instructions. Physical therapy and rehabilitation often play a key role in the recovery process, helping patients regain strength and function in the knee.