If arthroscopic knee surgery is in your future, you likely have questions about the procedure and what you can do to help prepare for your surgery. 

What is knee arthroscopy?

Knee arthroscopy is a surgery done to visually examine, diagnose, and repair the knee joint. The procedure is most often performed to: 

  • Diagnose an injury or disease inside a joint
  • Remove bone or cartilage
  • Repair tendons or ligaments 

Knee arthroscopy is performed using a special tool called an arthroscope, which is an instrument that looks like a long tube with a miniature camera on the end. Using the arthroscope and other tools, surgeons make small incisions in the knee to repair or correct the affected joint. 

Knee arthroscopy is minimally invasive compared to knee replacement surgery. You will either have a short hospital stay, typically a day, or be discharged to home on the same day as your surgery.

When is knee arthroscopy most often used?

Arthroscopy is used to see, diagnose, and treat problems inside your knee joint. The procedure is most often performed to: 

  • Diagnose an injury or disease inside a joint.
  • Remove bone or cartilage.
  • Repair tendons or ligaments. 

How can you prepare for your arthroscopic surgery?

Before your arthroscopy procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will evaluate your knee joint with a physical exam, x-rays, and/or a MRI scan. Once your surgery is scheduled, there are some important steps you can take beforehand to help ensure a successful outcome and to make recovery easier: 

  1. Prepare your home for post-surgical recovery by reducing items that may make walking hazardous. These include throw rugs, cords, and any clutter that is easy to trip over. In order to reduce the need to climb stairs, you should put items that you use frequently on the main floor of your home.
  2. Make an appointment with your primary care physician for a pre-operative physical exam to help ensure that you are in good health before your knee arthroscopy. In addition to a physical exam, he or she may order an electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood work. Discuss any existing medical conditions that could pose complications during or after your surgery. Medical issues that may increase the risk of complications from surgery include:
    • Pre-existing heart or lung condition
    • Obesity
    • Recent or chronic illness
    • Diabetes
    • Bleeding disorders
    • Smoking
  3. On the advice of your doctor, you may need to stop taking medications that could contribute to prolonged bleeding. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium products like Aleve®, warfarin anticoagulants like Coumadin®, fish oil supplements, and others. Your doctor also may ask you to stop taking herbal supplements and drinking caffeine. Usually, these medications should be stopped 7 days before surgery. 
  4. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about ways to quit before your surgery. Nicotine increases your risk of surgical complications and may delay healing. Your physician can help you find a smoking cessation program that is right for you.
  5. If you are overweight or obese, try to lose weight before your knee arthroscopy. Excess weight puts added pressure on your new joint and can delay recovery. 
  6. If you need any dental work, schedule it prior to your knee arthroscopy. This helps reduce the chance of infection in your new joint. 
  7. Consider obtaining a temporary disabled parking permit. 
  8. Prior to your procedure, try to avoid bruising, sunburn, poison ivy, cuts, abrasions, infections and other traumas to the knee.* 
  9. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure. Fasting helps reduce the nausea that anesthesia may cause. If your doctor says that it is okay to take certain medication on the day of surgery, take it with just a small sip of water. 
  10. Wear loose clothing, such as gym shorts, on the day of your surgery to make it easier to get dressed afterward. 
  11. You should take a bath or shower before you arrive for your surgery, but do not apply any lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish. Do not shave the surgical site yourself. If your doctor provided a special soap, use it to thoroughly clean the knee and surrounding area on the morning of the procedure. 
  12. Remove all jewelry, including piercings, and take out contact lenses, if you have them. 
  13. Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure. You will not be able to drive yourself home, and your doctor likely will limit driving for a certain period of time after the surgery. In addition, if you are given any narcotics for pain management, you should not drive or operate machinery as they can impair your judgment.

Following your arthroscopic knee surgery, the surgical dressings may be removed as early as the next morning. It takes 4-6 weeks for the joint to recover, and a physical therapy rehabilitation program may be recommended to help speed your recovery and protect future joint function. 

Dr. Abdurrahman Kandil is available for diagnosis of knee injuries and discussion of treatment options. To schedule an appointment, call the office at (703) 665-2720 or click the button to schedule an appointment online.

Book An Appointment Online with Dr. Kandil