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Knee Arthroscopy: Conditions Treated

Arthroscopy is used to find and treat many types of knee problems. These include tears in the meniscal cartilage or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and arthritis.

Meniscus showing instrument removing piece of meniscus from inside edge.
Damaged meniscal cartilage is removed.

Meniscal Cartilage Tears

There are several types of meniscal cartilage tears. The meniscal cartilage attaches on the tibia (shinbone) and acts as a shock absorber for the knee. Your surgery will depend on the type and extent of your injury. Your surgeon can remove the damaged tissue or fix the tear. Treatment should ease the pain and swelling. It can also help keep the joint from locking.

Front view of knee showing graft repair of anterior cruciate ligament.
To replace damaged ACL tissue, a graft of strong, healthy tissue is attached.

ACL Tears

A torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) can make the knee unstable. You may have pain and swelling, and your knee may give out. Your surgeon can repair the ACL by reconstructing it. To rebuild your ACL, damaged tissue may be replaced with a graft of healthy tissue from an area near your knee, or from a donor.

Front view of knee joint showing instrument shaving off damaged cartilage.
To treat arthritis, areas where cartilage has worn away are smoothed.

Arthritis

Constant use of the knee over time can cause arthritis. This is when the articular cartilage wears away and roughens. The articular cartilage attaches on the femur(thighbone) and aids in smooth motion of the joint. Bone or cartilage fragments can also break off inside the joint (loose bodies). Either problem can limit movement and cause pain. Your surgeon will use a burr or shaver to smooth the joint surface. This will aid in healing. Loose bodies and inflamed synovial tissue are also removed.

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Images Reviewed by Staywell medical art team
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 3/10/2013
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