Advances in surgical technique and technology have led to increasing indications for arthroscopy. The advantages of arthroscopic surgery include small incisions with lowered risks for operative complications such as infection and excessive blood loss. Video capture systems and the ability to take still photographs provide illustrations of specific points during the operation for the medical record. The benefits also carry over to the postoperative period in the form of lower requirements for analgesia, shortened hospital stays, and earlier initiation of rehabilitation protocols. Arthroscopic surgery is the most common type of orthopedic surgery, with the knee being the most frequent site of surgical treatment.
While the utility of arthroscopy has primarily been observed in its ability for administering therapeutic maneuvers, the arthroscope is also a powerful diagnostic tool for knee pathology. Therefore, the diagnostic portion of the case is the most important step in any arthroscopic procedure, as it allows for the identification of any pathology present and for development of a treatment plan. Surgeries that are performed most regularly include partial meniscectomy, meniscal repair, and ACL reconstruction. The arthroscope is also utilized for complex ligament reconstructions (ACL, MCL, PCL), meniscal transplantation, articular cartilage transplantation, and septic joint irrigation and debridement.
Indications for arthroscopy include the various injuries to the ligamentous and cartilaginous structures about the knee. Patients with meniscal pathology will often report a specific injury to their knee, describing a sharp pain on the medial or lateral side of the knee or occasionally in the back of the knee.