North Hampshire Hospital
The Hampshire Clinic
Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK

Mr John Britton FRCS
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Information for patients undergoing orthopaedic treatment


Advice on Knee Arthroscopy

Before embarking on knee arthroscopy you should be aware of the following facts. If you have any other questions you should ask your surgeon for further information.


  • Relief of symptoms:  The common indications for knee arthroscopy are pain or instability and this will usually be improved by arthroscopy.


General risks associated with any surgery

  • Cardiovascular problems:  Heart attack and stroke can occasionally be caused by anaesthesia and surgery. The risks of this complication is normally exceedingly small in healthy individuals. The risk may be greater if you have pre-existing disease, in which case your anaesthetist / surgeon will discuss this with you.

  • Thromboembolism:  Blood clots may sometimes form in the veins of your legs, a condition known as 'deep vein thrombosis.' This may cause excessive swelling of your legs and may require treatment with blood thinning drugs. Extremely rarely the clot may become detached and travel to the lungs; this is a potentially fatal complication known as a 'pulmonary embolus.' There are some conditions in which the risk of thromboembolism is increased (e.g. patients on the contraceptive pill or HRT), in which case you may be given medication to reduce the risk.

Specific risks of arthroscopy

  • Infection:  An infection may get into the knee after surgery. This is a serious complication and will usually require further surgery to wash out the infection. Infection is fortunately extremely rare and the chance of this occurring is less than 1%

  • Nerve and blood vessel injury:  There is a very small risk (<1%) of damage to nerves or blood vessels around the knee.

Residual symptoms

  • Arthroscopy will normally improve your symptoms. However this cannot be guaranteed, particularly if your knee is arthritic.

  • If your knee is diseased arthroscopy will not necessarily prevent further deterioration at a later date.

Surgery details

  • Surgery will be done under either general or regional anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist will discuss this with you.

  • The operation typically takes 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Most patients return home on the day of surgery; an overnight stay may on occasions be required (for example if your surgery is performed late in the day).

  • The majority of patients may weight bear on their knee immediately and a stick or a crutch is rarely required.
    However if you have had a microfracture procedure performed you will be advised to use crutches for about 6 weeks.


  • Outpatient physiotherapy is often, but not always, required for a few weeks after surgery.

  • Driving is not allowed for 48 hours after a general anaesthetic. Provided you are able to comfortably weight bear you may drive after this period.

  • Showers may be taken after 48 hours and bathing after 1 week

  • Dressings may be removed after 5 to 7 days. If your wounds were closed with stitches these are removed at about 7 days; frequently wounds are closed with tape or absorbable stitches in which case this is not necessary.

  • You will have a follow up check 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.


For further information please see

John Britton FRCS
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon


J M Britton 2007

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