North Hampshire Hospital
The Hampshire Clinic
Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK

Mr John Britton FRCS
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Information for patients undergoing orthopaedic treatment



Arthroscopy of the knee ('keyhole' surgery)

Arthroscopy involves the insertion of a small telescope measuring about 5mm in diameter through a small cut in the knee. Instruments can be passed through a second short (5mm) incision. Many surgical procedures can now be done in this way avoiding the need to make large incisions.

  • Meniscal tears
    Tears in the cartilages can always be dealt with by an arthroscopy. The majority of tears will not heal and the damaged part of the meniscus is simply removed. Very rarely in younger patients it is possible to stitch a meniscus back in place; this can normally be performed arthroscopically as well.

  • Debridement
    Patients with early arthritis may often be helped by a debridement that involves removing loose unstable articular cartilage and meniscal tissue.

  • Microfracture
    Sometimes an arthroscopy will reveal a small area of bone that has lost its covering of articular cartilage. This may be treated by a technique known as 'microfracture' in which a number of holes are drilled into the bone. This encourages the growth of a new articular lining.

  • Lateral release
    Pain arising from the patello-femoral joint can be treated with a lateral release, which involves cutting the joint capsule on the outer side of the kneecap. This improves the mechanics of the kneecap and eases anterior knee pain. The procedure is done arthroscopically

Surgical details

Surgery is done under a general anaesthetic and normally takes about 30 to 60 minutes. You will be discharged from hospital within about 12 hours, but this may mean staying overnight if you surgery is performed in the afternoon.

For most procedures you will be able to walk fully weight bearing immediately after surgery. If however you have had a lateral release or a microfracture you will need to use crutches for up to 6 weeks. Your individual post operative rehabilitation will be discussed with you before surgery.

For further information see Advice Sheet.


J M Britton 2007

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