Knee Arthroscopy: Before Your Surgery

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What is knee arthroscopy?

The knee

Arthroscopy is a way to find problems and do surgery inside a joint without making a large cut (incision). Your doctor puts a lighted tube with a tiny camera and surgical tools through small incisions in your knee. The camera is called an arthroscope, or scope.

In this surgery, your doctor may:

  • Remove or repair a torn piece of cartilage or loose bone.
  • Replace a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear with a piece of tissue. This repair is called a graft.
  • Smooth the rough surfaces of your joint.

Most people go home on the day of the surgery or the next day. If you have a simple injury, it may at least 6 weeks to recover. It may take longer if your doctor had to repair damaged tissue. You will need to limit activity while your knee heals. You may need to have physiotherapy (rehab) to help your knee get stronger.

If you have a desk job, you may be able to go back to work a few days after treatment of a simple injury. If you lift things or stand or walk a lot at work, it may be 2 to 6 weeks before you can go back.

After surgery and rehab, you will probably have less pain. Your knee should be stronger. You should be able to use your knee and leg better. Some people have to avoid lifting heavy objects.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 1 to 2 hours. It depends on how much repair needs to be done to your knee.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016