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Benefits of Knee Arthroscopy

When is knee arthroscopy recommended and why is it the best choice?

The knee joint is not only one of the most complex joints in the body, it also happens to be the largest. The four main parts of the knee are:

  • Bones – three bones come together to make up the knee joint, the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone) and the patella (kneecap).
  • Ligaments – ligaments connect bones to other bones. The ligaments in the knee are the medial collateral ligament and the lateral collateral ligament, located on the sides of the joint and the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments that crisscross within the interior of the joint.
  • Tendons – tendons connect bones to muscles. In the knee joint the tendons are the quadriceps tendon and the patellar tendon. 
  • Cartilage –  cartilage acts as cushions or shock absorbers protecting different parts of joints from other parts. The articular cartilage in the knee joint serves as a protective pad over the ends of the thigh and shin bones and there is a piece of cartilage shaped like a wedge in between them which absorbs shocks. This wedge-shaped cartilage is the meniscal cartilage. Meniscal tears are familiar injuries to sports fans. 

We ask a lot of our knees and use them constantly. Because of the constant demand and the complexity of the joint, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. The good news is that with the advances made in technology, a large number of those issues can be taken care of with far less pain and recovery time than in the past. The procedure most responsible for this is knee arthroscopy. 

We get the term arthroscopy from the Greeks. “Arthro” means joint and “skopein” means to look. Put together, arthroscopy describes the procedure that today’s orthopedic surgeons use to look inside the joints of the body without having to cut them open, and it is the most often performed orthopedic procedure currently being done.

Arthroscopy is used to diagnose problems within the knee, as well as to treat and repair many of them. Your orthopedic surgeon will make one small incision through which a miniature television camera attached to the arthroscope is inserted. This allows images from inside the joint to be displayed on a television screen. If treatment is being done at the same time, another small incision will be made for tiny surgical instruments.  

When Is Knee Arthroscopy Used? 

Damage to the soft tissue around the knee joint can be very painful. The conditions that knee arthroscopy is most commonly used for include: 

  • Repairing or removing a torn meniscus
  • Removing synovial tissue due to serious inflammation
  • Trimming areas of the articular cartilage that have become damaged or frayed
  • Removing chips and fragments of bone or cartilage
  • Treating infections
  • Treating issues involving the kneecap
  • Reconstructing or repairing tears in the anterior cruciate ligament

The benefits of knee arthroscopy are clear. It is a minimally invasive procedure that results in less pain, less recovery time and less scarring. It can be done as outpatient surgery, which saves time and reduces expense. While there is no such thing as risk-free surgery, any complications following knee arthroscopy are typically minor and easily treated, and the success rate of the procedure is very high. 

Patrick A. Meere, M.D., C.M., a board certified, fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon with 25 years of clinical experience in the New York City area is a Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, NYU School of Medicine, the Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Arthroplasty Research in Robotics and Sensors (LAARS) and the Co-Director of the Robotics Center in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health. He was the president of the 2019 CAOS (International Society for Computer Assisted Surgery) conference held in New York City from 6/19 – 6/22/2019. If you have questions about knee or hip replacement surgery, please use our convenient online contact form by clicking here.

Posted in: Knee Replacement

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