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Arthroscopy of the Knee

This technique involves the introduction of a telescope into the knee and is preceded by an examination of the knee when the patient is fully relaxed under anaesthetic.


The accurate assessment of an acutely injured knee can be difficult due to pain. An MRI scan can be helpful but has the limitation of being a static investigation and assessment of the anterior cruciate ligament can be inaccurate whereas under relaxation examination is conclusive.

Diagnosis v treatment?

Arthroscopy can be used where examination and scanning is inconclusive but symptoms persist to facilitate diagnosis. It is however most frequently used as a method of treatment.

What conditions can be treated by arthroscopy?

The most frequent injury treated by this technique is a tear of the cartilage (meniscus). The majority of operations on the knee outside of replacement can now be carried out with this technique and as day surgery or overnight in the case of ligament reconstruction.


Meniscal repair ; cartilage grafting ; removal of loose bodies ; fixation of fractures in the joint ; removal of synovial membrane (synovectomy - rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis) ; patella stabilisation and cruciate reconstruction.


These are very uncommon. The most important is bleeding into the knee (haemarthrosis), which occurs in 1:80-100 operations. This requires the knee to be washed out under anaesthetic and delays discharge by 24 hours but not the overall recovery.