Getting Ready For Arthoscopic Surgery On Your Knee

You can be happy that your orthopedic doctor will be doing arthroscopic surgery on your torn ACL instead of a more extensive surgery. The procedure will be done in an outpatient setting and your recovery will be much quicker. Here is what you can expect from the surgery and how to prepare for it and the subsequent recovery period.

Days Before the Surgery

You'll be instructed to stop taking certain medications for a few days before the surgery. For example, blood thinners such as warfarin can complicate the surgery. You'll restart those medications a few days after the procedure is done.

Arrange to have someone take you to your appointment and bring you home afterwards. Your doctor will want you to stay off of your leg for a few days while the tissues heal. If you're unfamiliar or unsteady on crutches, you'll also want to have someone help you at home for a couple of days. Simple tasks, like getting in and out of a bed or chair and fixing meals, can be challenging while using crutches.

The Night Before the Surgery

Have a light meal the night before and expect to be instructed not to eat or drink after midnight. Get plenty of rest that evening to help reduce your anxiety level. You can take any prescription medications in the morning with just enough water to get them down.

The Day of the Surgery

Once you're checked into the doctor's office or outpatient clinic, you'll meet with the anesthesiologist. They will ask questions about your health and any medications you are currently taking. They will then discuss the types of anesthesia that will be used during the surgery. It could be one or more of the following:

  • Local - This is an injection in your knee to deaden the area so you'll feel nothing as your doctor does the ACL repair.
  • Regional - This is an injection in your lower back which deadens the nerves from your waist down.
  • General - This is an injection through an IV which will put you to sleep during the surgery.

If you are uncomfortable about the procedure, general anesthesia is likely the choice. Otherwise, with the local and regional anesthetics, you'll be able to watch the procedure as it happens.

The Knee Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is done by the surgeon looking through a device that looks like a microscope. A tube with instruments on the end is guided into your knee through a small incision. With this equipment, your doctor is able to see the torn ligament and repair it within the knee. The small incision is one of the advantages of this technique versus traditional surgery which uses a much larger incision to expose the knee joint. There is less risk of a surgical infection and your recovery is quicker because fewer tissues are damaged during the surgery.

When the surgery is done, your doctor will stitch the incision closed and put a small bandage on it. You'll then be taken to a recovery area to wait for the anesthesia to completely wear off. The doctor will check your incision one more time and release you to go home.

Recovering at Home

Your doctor will tell you when you can put weight on your leg and when you can drive. You'll be given some exercises to start doing at home every day to keep your knee flexible. Your doctor will also prescribe several physical therapy sessions to strengthen the muscles in your knee.

You may have some pain in your knee for a few days after the surgery. Your doctor will give you a pain medication to keep the discomfort minimal. After the prescription runs out, you can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication, such as ibuprofen, for any pain.

You'll be able to return to your normal physical activities a few weeks after the surgery.

If you have specific questions about arthroscopic surgery or other orthopedic procedures, contact a doctor from a practice like Northwoods Family Orthopaedics SC.