What is arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy is a procedure that allows your orthopedic surgeon to look at the surface of your joints. The procedure can be used to diagnose joint problems, perform shoulder surgery or monitor disease. The procedure is often used to treat knee, hip, wrist, ankle, and shoulder injuries.

How does it work?

During arthroscopy your doctor will insert a camera into your joint. Images will then be displayed on screens for your orthopedic surgeon to see as he works with small surgical tools. The surgical equipment used in arthroscopy is particularly small, which means that the incisions made in the body will be small, less painful, and will heal much quicker than those made in traditional open surgery.

When do you need knee arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy can be performed to repair the following knee injuries:

  • Torn ligaments
    Knee ligament injuries can occur at the level of the cruciate and or collateral ligaments. Ligament tears can cause considerable knee pain, and severe cases may require surgery. Read more on anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.
  • Dislocated patella
    A kneecap dislocation occurs when the bone is pushed out of place, and soft tissues such as ligaments, muscles and tendons are damaged. Read more on patella (kneecap) dislocations and how they can be treated.
  • Fractures
    Symptoms of a knee fracture include significant knee pain, swelling, and bruising. Some fractures can be treated with plasters or braces, while some will require knee surgery.
  • Degenerative conditions
    While conservative treatment like cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory medication can be used to treat degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, arthroscopic debridement and partial meniscectomies can produce positive results. In more advanced cases of disease, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend a total knee replacement.

How do I prepare for knee arthroscopy?

Your orthopedic surgeon will conduct a thorough physical examination and order XR’s and most probably an MRI scan before considering knee surgery. After the procedure, your doctor may prescribe pain medication.

How long will recovery take?

Recovery will depend on the severity of your injury, as well as your personal condition. Speak to your orthopedic surgeon about rehabilitation, physical therapy, and any lifestyle changes that might be required.


Dr Gabriel Pirjol is based at St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban and also consults and operates from Gateway Hospital in Umhlanga, Westville Hospital and Malvern Medicross.


Telephone : +27 31 202 5463

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Address : Suite 24 Chelmsford Medical Centre
St Augustine's Hospital
107 J B Marks Road
Berea, 4001