Arthroscopy is useful in evaluating and treating the following conditions
- Torn floating cartilage (meniscus): The cartilage is trimmed to a stable rim or occasionally repaired
- Torn surface (articular) cartilage
- Removal of loose bodies (cartilage or bone that has broken off) and cysts.
- Reconstruction of the Anterior Cruciate ligament
- Patello-femoral (knee-cap) disorders
- Washout of infected knees
- General diagnostic purposes
Basic Knee Anatomy
The knee is the largest joint in the body. The knee joint is made up of the femur, tibia and patella (knee cap). All these bones are lined with articular (surface cartilage). This articular cartilage acts like a shock absorber and allows a smooth low friction surface for the knee to move on. Between the tibia and femur lie two floating cartilages called menisci. The medial (inner) meniscus and the Lateral (outer) meniscus rest on the tibial surface cartilage and are mobile. The menisci also act as shock absorbers and stabilizers. The knee is stabilized by ligaments that are both in and outside the joint. The medial and lateral collateral ligaments support the knee from excessive side-to-side movement. The (internal) anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments support the knee from buckling and giving way. The knee joint is surrounded by a capsule (envelope) that produces a small amount of synovial (lubrication) fluid to help with smooth motion. Thigh muscles are important secondary knee stabilizers.
A routine X-Ray of the knee which includes a standing weight-bearing view is usually required. An MRI scan which looks at the cartilage and soft tissues may be needed if the diagnosis is unclear. There is little value in the use of Ultrasound in investigating knee problems.
Meniscal Cartilage Tears:
Following a twisting type of injury the medial (or Lateral) meniscus can tear. This results either from a sporting injury or may occur from a simple twisting injury when getting out of a chair or standing from a squatting position. Our cartilage become a little brittle as we get older and therefore can tear a little easier. The symptoms of a torn cartilage include
- Pain over the torn area i.e. inner or outer side of the knee
- Knee swelling
- Reduced motion
- Locking if the cartilage gets caught between the femur and the tibia