Knee Scope Meniscectomy: What to Expect

By Jon Stiffler PTA

Exploring Knee Scope Meniscectomy

Simply put, a knee scope meniscectomy is a type of surgery performed to treat certain conditions affecting the knee, specifically those related to the meniscus. The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage in your knee joint that works like a cushion between your thigh bone and shin bone. When the meniscus gets torn or damaged, it can lead to pain, swelling, and limited knee movement.

In a knee scope meniscectomy, a small camera called an arthroscope is inserted into the knee joint through a tiny cut. This allows the surgeon to see the inside of the knee and carry out the necessary repairs or removal of the damaged meniscus.

If your doctor has recommended a knee scope meniscectomy, it’s important that you understand what the procedure involves, how to prepare for it, and what to expect during the recovery and rehabilitation process. In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at these topics to give you a complete understanding of knee scope meniscectomy.

knee pain

Image of Knee Pain

What Exactly is a Knee Scope Meniscectomy?

A knee scope meniscectomy is a surgical process that’s typically performed to treat tears in the knee’s meniscus. As we mentioned earlier, the meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that works like a cushion between the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia). When this cartilage tears due to an injury or wear and tear, it can lead to pain, swelling, and limited movement.

During a knee scope meniscectomy, a surgeon creates tiny cuts around the knee and inserts a miniature camera known as an arthroscope. This helps the surgeon see the inside of the knee joint and find the tear. Small surgical tools are then used to take out the torn part of the meniscus.

People undergo knee scope meniscectomy for various reasons. The most common one is a meniscus tear caused by sports-related injuries or accidents. Such tears are common in athletes involved in high-impact sports or individuals who participate in activities that involve sudden twisting or turning of the knee.

The benefits of a knee scope meniscectomy include pain relief, better knee function, and a faster recovery compared to traditional open surgery. This less invasive procedure also reduces the risk of complications like infection and blood loss. However, like any surgery, knee scope meniscectomy carries some risks, such as infection, blood clots, and damage to surrounding structures. It’s important to discuss the risks and benefits with your surgeon before deciding to go ahead with this procedure.

How Successful Are These Knee Scope Surgeries?

This surgery has a very high success rate. In almost all cases, your recovery will be smooth and relatively quick, allowing you to resume all activities that you want to participate in within 4 to 6 weeks.

Getting Ready for a Knee Scope Meniscectomy

Getting ready for a knee scope meniscectomy involves a few crucial steps to make sure the procedure and recovery go smoothly. By following pre-surgery instructions, undergoing necessary medical tests, and mentally and physically preparing yourself, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Before your knee scope meniscectomy, your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions. These may include dietary restrictions, changes to your medication, or activity level guidelines. It’s very important to follow these instructions to minimize the risk of complications during and after the surgery.

Meniscus Tear

Ligaments and Meniscus of the Knee

You may also need to undergo certain medical tests before the procedure. These tests help your healthcare team assess your overall health, find any underlying conditions, and make sure you’re fit for surgery. Common tests include blood work, imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans, and a physical check-up.

Preparing yourself mentally and physically is just as important. This involves understanding the procedure, its benefits, and potential risks. It’s essential to have realistic expectations and discuss any worries or questions with your healthcare provider. Physical preparation might include exercises recommended by your doctor to strengthen your knee or improve flexibility. You should also plan your transportation to and from the surgical facility and make sure you have someone to help you during your recovery.

The Knee Scope Meniscectomy Procedure

The knee scope meniscectomy procedure is a less invasive surgical technique used to treat a torn meniscus in the knee joint. This procedure involves removing part or all of the damaged meniscus to relieve pain, improve joint function, and prevent more damage.

Here is a step-by-step overview of what happens during the procedure:

  1. Preparation: Before the surgery, the patient usually undergoes a thorough medical evaluation. This includes reviewing their medical history, conducting physical check-ups, and carrying out necessary diagnostic tests like X-rays or MRI scans. Once the patient is deemed suitable for the procedure, they are prepared for surgery.
  2. Anesthesia Options and Monitoring: The knee scope meniscectomy can be carried out under general anesthesia or regional anesthesia such as spinal or epidural anesthesia. The type of anesthesia used depends on various factors, including the patient’s health condition and the surgeon’s preference. Throughout the procedure, the patient’s vital signs are closely monitored.
  3. Arthroscopic Tools and Techniques: The surgery is performed using an arthroscope, which is a thin, flexible tube equipped with a light source and a camera. Small cuts are made around the knee joint, allowing the arthroscope and surgical tools to be inserted. The surgeon can see the inside of the knee joint on a monitor, guiding the tools to carefully remove the damaged meniscus.

The knee scope meniscectomy procedure is very effective in relieving knee pain caused by a torn meniscus. It has several advantages over traditional open surgery, including smaller cuts, less scarring, quicker recovery time, and less pain after the operation.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

After a knee scope meniscectomy, it’s important to follow post-surgery care instructions for a smooth recovery and optimal healing. Here are some important guidelines to keep in mind:

1. Post-surgery Care Instructions: Your surgeon will give you specific instructions based on your individual needs. It’s essential to follow these instructions carefully, including how to care for your wound, manage your medication, and any weight-bearing restrictions. This will help minimize the risk of complications and promote proper healing.

2. Managing Pain and Swelling: It’s common to have pain and swelling after a knee scope meniscectomy. Your surgeon may prescribe medication or recommend over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage discomfort. Using ice packs on the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can also help reduce swelling.

3. Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Exercises: Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the recovery process. Your surgeon may refer you to a physical therapist who will guide you through exercises and rehabilitation techniques to regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in your knee. It’s important to follow your therapist’s instructions diligently for a successful recovery.

Remember, everyone’s recovery timeline is different, so be patient with your progress. If you have any worries or questions during your recovery, don’t hesitate to contact your surgeon or healthcare provider.

Types of meniscus tear

Types of Meniscus Tears

Will I Be Completely Fine at the End of Those 4-6 Weeks?

Everyone heals from knee surgery at a different pace.  A small number of people still experience pain and swelling several months after surgery.  It is important to do your exercises from physical therapy at home.

Do I Need a Knee Brace?

Knee braces after simple arthroscopic knee surgery are rarely used. However, if your surgery involves more than just removal of torn cartilage or meniscus – for example, if you have a meniscal repair – your knee may be placed in a brace after surgery.

When Can I Shower?

You can shower 48 hours after your surgery if there is no drainage from your incisions. However, you will need to cover your incisions to keep them dry. Do not get the incisions wet until after your stitches have been removed. Once the stitches have been removed, you will need to continue to cover the incisions until they have completely healed. Do not scrub directly over your incisions and gently pat the incisions dry after showering.

Should I move my knee after surgery? What exercises should I be doing at home?

You are encouraged to bend and straighten your knee as much as pain allows immediately after standard knee arthroscopy. Remember, however, that your knee may be swollen and achieving full motion is often difficult for the first few days. You may tighten your quadriceps muscle right after surgery and we encourage straight leg raises if they are not too painful.

JOI Rehab Straight Leg Raise

Image of a guy doing a Straight Leg Raise

When Can I Walk on my Leg After Surgery?

Your surgeon should give you instructions on your weight bearing status. Typically, you can put as much weight on your leg as is comfortable immediately after surgery. Due to pain levels, you may need crutches or a walker. Typically, you are able to transition to one crutch within a couple days after surgery. However, your physician’s instructions and pain should be your guide.  Again, your physician may have to perform other surgical procedures which may change your weight bearing status.

When Can I Drive?

This depends on which leg you had surgery on. You should consult your physician for final clearance for driving. YOU MUST NOT DRIVE IF YOU ARE TAKING NARCOTICS! If you drive a standard transmission vehicle and had surgery on your left knee, you should probably wait about one or two weeks before driving to avoid causing more pain and irritation from operating the clutch. If you had surgery on your right leg, you should wait to drive until you have enough strength in your right leg to slam on the break in the event of an emergency or unexpected event.  For long distances within two weeks after your surgery, you should take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk to decrease the risk of a blood clot forming in your leg.

Should I Use Ice or Heat?

Ice should be used for the first several days, particularly if you have a lot of swelling or discomfort. Ice is also helpful if you develop swelling after exercising. Once the initial swelling has decreased, you may use either ice and/or heat depending on which helps you the most. Some patients report that using heat prior to activities helps “warm up” the knee.

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By: Jon Stiffler, PTA.

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