Knee Arthroscopy | The Edinburgh Clinic

Knee Arthroscopy

An arthroscopy of the knee is explained in this section. If you have any questions about this procedure, it is best to contact a member of your professional healthcare team or speak to your GP.

Arthroscopy of the knee in short

An arthroscopy is also referred to as keyhole surgery and involves inserting a camera through small cuts in the skin. This enables your surgeon to see what is going on inside your knee and diagnose common problems such as arthritis, a damaged ligament and a torn cartilage.

Figure 1
Internal structure of the right knee

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The benefits of surgery explained

Surgery is beneficial to examine and diagnose problems affecting the knee and in lots of cases to treat the problem during the procedure.

What are the alternatives to surgery?

MRI scans, also known as magnetic scans, are useful for diagnosing problems inside the knee, but often an arthroscopy is required and performed to treat the condition.

What does an arthroscopy entail?

This fairly short operation lasts about half an hour to three-quarters of an hour with an assortment of anaesthetic techniques available.

As well as examining the inside of your knee, your surgeon will also remove any loose material that may have occurred due to the wearing of the joint surfaces. They are also usually able to trim or repair a torn cartilage without making a larger cut to the area.

Complications that may occur

General complications may include the following: 

  • Blood clots
  • Scarring
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Bleeding
  • Pain
  • Difficulty passing urine

Specific complications may include the following:

  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the knee (complex regional pain syndrome)
  • Infection in the knee joint
  • Developing a lump under the wound
  • Damage to nerves around the knee

Will recovery take long?

In most cases, you should be able to go home the same day as the surgery. 

It can be uncomfortable to walk and common for the knee to be a little swollen for a few weeks following an arthroscopy.

Regular exercise can help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible.

Always get advice from your GP or healthcare professional before embarking on exercise.

Your surgeon will also be able to tell you if you are likely to experience further knee problems. Generally, most people who have an arthroscopy make a good recovery and return to their normal activities.

Arthroscopy summarised

The surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat many common knee problems without cutting a large area of the skin is known as an arthroscopy. This keyhole surgery may reduce the amount of pain felt and speed up recovery time post-surgery.


EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare. 

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Knee Arthroscopy Consultants