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Basics of Knee Arthroscopy

By Sports Medicine Oregon

Knee Surgery, Knee Arthroscopy, Shoulder Surgery, Sports Medicine

In knee arthroscopy a small camera is used to view (-scopy) a joint (-arthro). This process lets the orthopedic surgeon see the inside of the knee. This facilitates accurate diagnosis and treatment of knee problems.

Advances in high-resolution cameras and improved arthroscopes have made this procedure extremely effective in accurately diagnosing and treating knee disorders.

The Anatomy Of The Knee

There are three bones that make up the knee. They are the femur, tibia, and patella. The area where these three bones meet is covered with articular cartilage. This is a smooth cushioning substance that allows the bones to move with ease.

The rest of the surfaces of the knee are covered in a smooth, thin tissue liner known as synovial membrane. Synovial membrane creates a lubricating fluid that reduces friction in the knee to almost nothing as long as the knee is healthy and everything is functioning properly.

The largest joint in the human body is the knee. It is used in most activities of daily living. As mentioned previously, it is made up of three bones. The femur is the lower end of the thigh bone. It rotates on the upper end of the tibia, or shin bone. The patella is the kneecap. It slides on a groove located at the end of the femur. The femur and tibia are attached by large ligaments that give stability. The large thigh muscle adds strength to the knee structure.

Problems With the Knee

Ideally, all the components of the knee will perform together perfectly. However, normal wear and tear caused by work and sports, along with damage caused by aging, weakening tissues, arthritis and injury can cause pain and a loss in functioning ability.

Here are some problems that can be diagnosed and treated by the use of arthroscopy:

  • Chondromalacia is damage to the surfaces of the joints and/or a softening of articular cartilage.
  • Crystalline arthropathy, gouty or rheumatoid arthritis is the inflammation of the synovial membrane.
  • An abnormally aligned or unstable kneecap.

Knee joint problems that are visible with arthroscopy:

  • Tears in the meniscal cartilage.
  • Loose or fragmented cartilage and bone.
  • Tears in the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments.

Arthroscopy provides a clear image of the knee. This is very helpful to the orthopedic surgeon. With this tool, he or she is able to decide what types of reconstructive surgery can be used effectively.