What To Expect From Outpatient Surgery On Your Knee

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The orthopedic surgeon suggested arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn cartilage in your knee. While this is still considered major surgery, it is far less invasive than traditional knee surgery. Here is what you can expect from this procedure from the time you walk in to the clinic to the time you go home a few hours later.

Surgery That Doesn't Require a Hospital Stay

The arthroscopic procedure is done in your doctor's office or an outpatient clinic. You'll be in and out in a few hours, without the need for even an overnight stay. This surgery gets you back on your feet and home quickly to begin the weeks of physical therapy needed to gain back the full use of your knee.

Preparing for the Surgery

Once you've checked into the outpatient facility, you'll speak with a doctor about the anesthesia options. A local anesthetic will be injected into the knee to deaden any sensations there during the surgery. You may also have the choice of a regional anesthetic. This is injected into the lower back and removes any feeling from the waist down.

You can also choose to be awake and alert during the procedure. The surgical room will have monitors on which you can see what the doctor is seeing as they repair your knee cartilage. But if such thoughts make you queasy, you can elect to be given a mild sedative that will make you drowsy an unaware of the surgery.

Unlike traditional knee surgery, you won't need a general anesthetic. That anesthetic takes time to wear off and has more side effects that could require a hospital stay.

The Arthroscopic Procedure

Once the anesthetic takes effect, the surgeon makes a small incision over the knee joint into which they insert a small tube that contains a tiny camera. The camera is guided into the knee joint so the surgeon can see the torn cartilage. They will view your knee through the monitors in the room and a microscope attached to the camera.

A second small incision is made over the joint and another tube is inserted which contains the instruments used to repair the torn cartilage. This is also guided near the injury so the surgeon can reach the cartilage with the various instruments. Once this tube is in place, the doctor can trim and remove any damaged tissue and stitch together the torn edges of the cartilage.

When the procedure is complete, the tubes are removed and small bandages are placed over the incisions. You'll then be taken to a recovery area to rest for a couple of hours before you go home.

Recovery and Release

During the recovery time, the anesthetic wears off and your level of pain is evaluated. You'll be given some pain medication while at the clinic and a prescription for more to have at home for any discomfort in the knee. Since fewer soft tissues are disrupted in your knee with this procedure than traditional surgery, you'll likely have less pain.

The staff will monitor your incisions for any drainage and may change the bandages. You'll be given extra bandages to take home with instructions on how to change them and look for signs of infection or excess drainage.

Before you go home, you'll receive a number of instructions from the doctor or staff, such as:

  • the amount of weight you can put on your knee when walking
  • exercises you need to do to keep your knee from getting stiff
  • any limitations as to the amount of bending you can do with your knee

You will then be given the pain medication prescriptions and an appointment to see the doctor in a few days. Once you understand the instructions and can navigate safely on your crutches, you'll be free to go home and wait to start the next phase of your recovery - physical therapy.

To learn more, contact a clinic like Framingham Orthopedic Associates