Keyhole surgery of the knee has revolutionised the treatment of so called soft-tissue conditions of the knee. A cartilage tear (meniscal tear) is a common and very painful condition that can occur after trauma, and even without and obvious trauma. It causes sharp intermittent pains, and can cause locking, catching, clicking and giving way of the knee. Trimming of the tear, and in rare cases repair of the tear by arthroscopy is a highly successful operation to have done.
The science of arthroscopy is evolving such that rarer conditions of the knee are now within the scope of the dedicated arthroscopy surgeon-
- Osteochondral defects (damage to the surface cartilage of the knee); these can be treated by radiofrequency chondroplasty (smoothing over of the defect), or microfracture (promoting new cartilage growth from the stem cells present in your own marrow just below the bony surface of the knee articular bone).
- Chondromalacia (softening of the surface cartilage of the knee), this condition of unknown cause results in pain in the knee, and can mimic the symptoms of cartilage tear, with an apparently normal MRI scan. It can be treated by radiofrequency chondroplasty to the affected cartilage.
- Loose bodies in the knee (usually from damaged cartilage within the knee). These can simply be removed returning the knee function to normal.
The real benefit of keyhole surgery is the recovery. These are now day-case procedures. Meaning you turn up on the day. Have your operation. You see your surgeon in the immediate aftermath of the operation and can be told exactly what was found and done. Then you can mobilise, fully weight bearing in comfort the same day as surgery. And go home that same day. Most people find they take a week off work after an arthroscopy.