What is a meniscus repair?

Arthroscopic knee surgery is surgery used to diagnose and repair problems with your knee. During surgery, the surgeon inserts an arthroscope (a tiny camera) into your knee, and projects a large picture of your knee on a screen, giving a close look at the problems. The surgeon can then make small incisions (cuts) and insert tools to repair or remove damaged tissue. With arthroscopic surgery, your incisions are small and your recovery is relatively fast. Most patients can go home the day of surgery. 

Most of the time, arthroscopic surgery is only considered after you have tried all other options, like medicine, knee braces, changes in activity, and/or physical therapy. 

What are the benefits?

The benefits of arthroscopic surgery include:

  • Accurate diagnosis.  The arthroscope helps your doctor get a better picture of what's wrong with your knee. 
  • Faster recovery.  Recovery is usually faster than with surgery involving larger incisions.
  • Less scarring. The incisions result in very small scars that don’t interfere with movement. 

What are the risks and/or side effects?

Common risks of arthroscopic surgery include: 

  • Bleeding or infection. With any surgery, there is a small risk of bleeding or developing a wound infection. Antibiotics and careful sterile techniques are used to reduce this risk. 
  • Failure to relieve symptoms.  Your surgeon will do everything possible to give you the best results. Even so, surgery may not relieve all your symptoms. 
  • A blood clot in a deep vein (DVT).  These problems are rare and treatable. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prepare?

Be sure to talk to your doctor about what you can expect from your surgery. 

There are a few things you can also do to prepare that will help your surgery go better, and may also help you recover faster:

  • Ask for a ride. After your surgery, you may not be able to drive. You should arrange to have a responsible adult give you a ride home from the hospital and stay with you for the first 24 hours after surgery. 
  • Ask for time off work. Ask your doctor how long you may need to be off work, and arrange this with your boss or employer. 
  • Follow all instruction about eating a drinking the day before your surgery. You may be asked to stop eating a drinking for a few hours before. This is to prevent problems with anesthesia. If you don't follow these instructions, your surgery may have to be postponed. 
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Wear clothes that are loose and easy to get on and off. You may have a cast or thick dressing on your knee after the surgery.  
  • Bring assistive devices. If you have a walker, knee brace, or crutches, your doctor will advise you on using them to go home after the surgery. 
  • Bring a list of your current medicines. This includes all prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, patches, inhalers, herbal supplements, and vitamins. You may be asked to bring inhalers or other medicines with.
  • Tell your doctor if you’re allergic to any medicines, have a rash or infection near your knee, or if you have ever had any negative reactions to anesthesia.