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Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside of a joint.
Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside of a joint. The word arthroscopy comes from the Greek words, “arthro” (joint) and “skopein” (to look). The term literally means to look within the joint.” During the knee arthroscopy, the surgeon will make 2-3 tiny incisions to insert the pencil-sized instruments. These instruments contain a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint. By attaching the arthroscope to a miniature camera, the surgeon can visualize and examine the inside the joint. They can examine the bones, cartilage, and ligaments of the knee and repair or correct various problems or injuries.
Diagnosing a joint injury will always begin with a thorough medical history, physical examination, and radiographic studies (x-rays, MRI, CT scan, etc.). Through the arthrosocope, a final diagnosis is made which is often more accurate than through traditional “open”surgery, x-ray studies, or MRI alone.
Some of the more common reasons that knee arthroscopy is done in pediatric orthopaedics include:
Arthroscopic surgery is done in the operating room or surgical suite under a general anesthetic. Although the procedure can be done under a local block (regional anesthesia), it is usually done with general anesthesia in the pediatric population. A small incision (about the size of a buttonhole) will be made to insert the arthroscope into the knee joint. 2-3 additional buttonhole incisions are often needed to examine other parts of the joint or to insert other instruments. When indicated, corrective surgery is performed with specially designed instruments that are inserted into the joint through the accessory incisions. Many common knee injuries can now be treated arthroscopically.
After arthroscopic surgery, the small incisions will be covered with a bulky dressing and knee immobilizer. You will be moved from the operating room into the recovery room. Some patients will need little or no pain medication, although it is not uncommon to have pain if an injury was treated. The surgeon will usually put novocaine in the knee at the time of surgery for pain relief after surgery. This will often last for about six-eight hours after surgery. Pain medication should be used as needed for the first few days after surgery. After the novocaine wears off, it is not uncommon to have discomfort in the knee. The pain should be well controlled with Ibuprofen (Motrin) and/or Tylenol with Codeine (tablets or liquid). The dose will depend on weight of the patient. A presciption will be given and should be filled prior to going home from the hospital.
Once you are awake, tolerating drinking and eating, and pain is well controlled, you will be discharged home.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office at 617-726-8523.
Content developed by Erin S. Hart, RN, MS, CPNP, Maurice B. Albright, MD, Brian E. Grottkau, MD and Saechin Kim, MD
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