What happens during arthroscopic knee surgery – Bob Sanders

You gotta feel for Bob Sanders of the Indianapolis Colts. It seems that he goes down for the count in even years. This year he is going down for arthroscopic knee surgery. This raises an interesting question. What exactly happens during arthroscopic knee surgery?

Usually, you find out you need arthroscopic knee surgery after you’ve been injured or your pain level steadily rises through time. The typical causes are:

  • Torn meniscus: The meniscus is the body of tissue that acts a shock absorber between your leg bones in the knee joint.
  • Rebuilding the ACL: The anterior cruciate ligament basically connects your two leg bones together through the knee joint.
  • Diagnostics: Yep, sometimes you undergo the procedure just to take a peek.

The surgery was developed by a Japanese doctor named Masaki Watanabe and it’s come a long way since the beginning in the 1970s.

You’ll be knocked out for the surgery with general anesthesia. In some cases an epidural will be used.

The surgery itself is designed to be minimally invasive, so a small hole is opened in your knee. How small? No more than 1/8 of an inch. When the hole is opened small instruments are used to look around, poke, grab and cut. In many instances a second or third hole might be needed.

The main medical instrument used is called an arthroscope. It looks like an ice pick on steroids. There is a small fiber optic camera that runs the length of the instrument and allows the surgeon to see inside your knee. No, they don’t squint and try to look through a view finder. The image is displayed on a set of monitors in the surgical area.

The other tools used are miniturized verisons of normal tools including scissors, scalpels and such. The tools needs to fit through the small hole.

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During the surgery the surgeron is going to irrigate your knee to clean it out and add a non reactive dye to help differentiate the tissues. The whole thing takes less than an hour from start to finish.

Now, check out the video of the whole thing. It’s not for the squeemish, but it’s fascinating to watch.

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