Arthroscopy is a procedure for diagnosing and treating joint problems. A surgeon inserts a narrow tube attached to a fiber-optic video camera through a small incision — about the size of a buttonhole. The view inside your joint is transmitted to a high-definition video monitor. Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision. Orthopedic Surgeons can even repair some types of joint damage during arthroscopy, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted through additional small incisions. Corrective surgery or a biopsy may be performed using arthroscopy. For example, torn ligaments can be repaired or reconstructed. Arthroscopic surgery may eliminate the need for an open surgery procedure. Common arthroscopic procedures for the knee are removal or repair of a torn meniscus, reconstruction of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, removal of inflamed synovial tissue, trimming damaged cartilage, removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage, treatment of patella (kneecap) problems and knee sepsis (infection). The technique of arthroscopy involves inserting the arthroscope, a small tube that contains optical fibers and lenses, through tiny incisions in the skin into the joint to be examined. The arthroscope is connected to a video camera and the interior of the joint is seen on a television monitor. Specialized instruments are used for tasks like shaving, cutting, grasping, and meniscal repair. In many cases, special devices are used to anchor the stitches into bone. Most knee arthroscopy procedures last less than an hour. The length of the surgery will depend upon the findings and the treatment necessary. Your surgeon may close each incision with a stitch or steri-strips (small bandaids), and then cover your knee with a soft bandage. Many people return to full, unrestricted activities after arthroscopy. Your recovery will depend on the type of damage that was present in your knee.
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