Private knee arthroscopy surgery

A knee arthroscopy, also referred to as knee keyhole surgery, is a minimally invasive procedure used to evaluate and treat conditions like cartilage damage and arthritis.  

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At HCA UK, we offer:

  • Appointments with specialist knee consultants which are confirmed within 24 hours
  • Leading orthopaedic experts who specialise in solving knee symptoms and conditions
  • The highest proportion of facilities rated 'Outstanding' by the CQC of any private hospital group in the UK

What is a knee arthroscopy?

If you’re experiencing ongoing pain in your knee, an arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical approach to diagnose and treat it. It’s usually preceded by an MRI scan to help your surgeon understand what procedures are most suitable. 

An arthroscopy allows your consultant to see inside your knee joint using a small camera (arthroscope). It’s inserted through a very small incision and transmits images to a high-definition monitor. If required, your surgeon will also be able to pass specially designed surgical tools into your knee joint to perform a wide variety of treatments. This is done through other small incisions.

Arthroscopy is used to treat a range of joint problems and conditions, including meniscal injuries, ligament injuries and kneecap or patella instability. It’s also used to treat many common knee problems without the need for open surgery, for example, repairing damaged cartilage or removing a loose body (a small fragment of cartilage or bone that breaks away from the joint).

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Why do I need a knee arthroscopy?

If you've undergone diagnostic tests (such as an MRI) which show damage in line with your symptoms and you've not benefited from non-surgical treatment, a knee arthroscopy may be suggested.

This procedure is common among all age groups. That’s because wear and tear, sports, trauma and overuse problems in your knees can all cause painful conditions treatable by arthroscopic approaches. 

Treatments performed via knee arthroscopy

  • Cartilage repair or removal: Damage to the meniscus in your knee might require it to be repaired or trimmed. If the articular cartilage that sits around the knee joint is damaged, it will likely also be treated via arthroscopy
  • Ligament restoration: The knee joint has four major ligaments, the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL/PCL) and the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL/LCL). Injuries to the ACL are quite common among athletes and typically require reconstructive surgery to return to sporting activity.
  • Surgery for arthritis: Arthritis generally cannot be healed via arthroscopic surgery. However, it may be possible to manage symptoms and treat associated conditions such as loose bodies via a knee arthroscopy.
  • Kneecap treatment: If the kneecap is tilted or malaligned, it can be treated arthroscopically.
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What symptoms may a knee arthroscopy help with?

  • Pain in the knee joint that worsens as you bear weight on the associated leg
  • Your knee joint feeling like it will give way or an inability to carry your weight on it
  • A swollen knee that might be tender to the touch
  • Popping or clicking sounds and sensations as you flex your knee through its range of motion
  • Being unable to fully extend your leg or your knee joint becoming locked in place

How does a knee arthroscopy work?

Rather than open surgery where your knee will be cut down the length of the joint and 'opened', with a knee arthroscopy, your surgeon will make two to four very small cuts to insert the arthroscope and any surgical tools they may need to use. 

With high-definition images on a screen, your surgeon can examine and treat your knee without the need for invasive surgery. A saline solution may be passed through the knee joint to improve visibility and make it easier to manoeuvre any required surgical instruments. 

The whole procedure usually takes 30 to 45 minutes, depending on what treatment is required.

Before you have the surgery, your consultant will explain the procedure to you and take you through any possible risks and side effects. They’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you’ve decided on a general anaesthetic, your consultant will let you know how long you should avoid eating and drinking before the procedure. In cases where regional anaesthetic (an epidural) is used, you may need to remain in hospital overnight to regain feeling and strength in your legs.

If you're a smoker, you'll also be asked to stop smoking before and after the procedure to aid healing. They'll also ask you about any medication that you take and advise on whether any medication used as part of your procedure can be taken in conjunction.

On the day of your procedure, bring any regular medication with you and make sure you have arranged your travel home as you won't be able to drive. When you arrive at our hospital, our nursing staff will run through some pre-operative checks with you and your surgeon will talk you through the procedure, allowing you to ask any questions you may have.

When it's time for your procedure, you'll get changed into a surgical gown and be taken to theatre. Here, the anaesthetist will begin administering your anaesthetic, which will likely put you to sleep.

Small incisions called portals will be made in your knee and the arthroscope will be moved into the joint. Clear, sterile fluid is pumped into your knee joint to make it easier for your surgeon to see inside your joint clearly on their monitor.

First, your surgeon will examine your entire knee. If treatment is required, this will then be carried out using specialist tools that can also work in your joint through the small portals. Your surgeon may need to trim or remove pieces of cartilage, repair or replace damaged ligaments, or shave down problematic areas of bone.

Your surgeon might also take photographs of the inside of your knee to better inform your aftercare and future procedures. When the procedure is finished, the tools and fluid will be removed from your knee and the portals will be closed using stitches or steri-strips.

After surgery, you'll be taken to a recovery area and then your private room for the effects of your anaesthetic to wear off. If you're given general anaesthetic, you may experience some confusion when you first come around, but our nursing team will be there to make sure you have anything you need, including any pain relief if you wake in discomfort.

Once you've come around fully, you'll be offered something to eat and drink. You'll be given crutches to help you get around and will likely need to use them for two weeks post-op. If you feel like you're ready to go home and we've performed all necessary observations on you and your surgical site, you'll be free to go.

You'll be talked through any medication provided to take home with you before you leave. We will also schedule some follow-up appointments that may include check-ups or physiotherapy sessions.

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Benefits of knee arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy is one of the most common surgical procedures, allowing the surgeon to diagnose and treat a problem with just a few small incisions. As well as being minimally invasive, the procedure offers several additional benefits:
  • Relief from knee pain and improved mobility
  • Less tissue damage
  • Fewer stitches
  • Lower risk of infection (due to the smaller incisions)
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Faster recovery
  • Quick discharge (you can often go home on the same day as the procedure)
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Potential risks of keyhole knee surgery

While no surgery is completely risk-free, the risks with knee arthroscopy are low. Occasional problems can occur, such as blood clotting, infection or adverse reactions to anaesthetic, but these are rare.

Your specialist will discuss this further with you when outlining your treatment options.

Knee arthroscopy surgery FAQs

Compared to major open surgeries, knee arthroscopy is a straightforward, minimally invasive procedure. The surgeon only needs to make very small incisions and the procedure doesn't damage the structures around the joint.
You won’t feel any pain during the procedure due to the anaesthetic. A key benefit of knee arthroscopy is that you should also feel less pain afterwards than with open surgery. As the procedure is minimally invasive, patients tend to recover quicker and feel relief from knee pain earlier.
Knee arthroscopy is typically performed under general anaesthetic, which means you'll be asleep during the procedure. It can also be carried out under a local anaesthetic, where you remain awake but the surgical site is numbed, or with a spinal anaesthetic that temporarily takes away the feeling in the lower half of your body but does not put you to sleep. The condition of your knee and your overall health can influence the type of anaesthetic that's recommended for your procedure. You can talk to your surgeon about which is the best approach for you.

You'll likely need to use crutches immediately after a knee arthroscopy and possibly for a few weeks afterwards. The hospital staff will let you know what to expect and how to care for your knee while it heals. Your knee may feel swollen and tender for a few weeks.

Your consultant may recommend some physiotherapy sessions and exercises to help improve your mobility as you recover. They'll also let you know if any further tests or procedures are needed and when you can get back to your usual routine.

After a knee arthroscopy, you’ll need to rest in the hospital to recover from the anaesthetic. Patients can often return home on the same day as the procedure. The procedure is minimally invasive, which leads to a much quicker recovery than with open surgery. The timeline is typically longer if you undergo treatment during the arthroscopy. A full recovery may be made anywhere from six to 12 weeks after your operation.

You may feel a small amount of discomfort in your knee for about one to two weeks afterwards. There may also be some swelling, which you can treat with ice packs. Your doctor will observe your progress and discuss the surgery and any relevant recovery information with you, including when you can get back to work and your usual routine.

Those who work in offices or other sedentary settings typically return to work sooner than people employed in physically demanding jobs. You'll also receive advice on appropriate exercises following your surgery, such as whether weight-bearing exercises are safe for your recovery.

You won't be able to drive yourself home after a knee arthroscopy, so someone will need to arrange transport to pick you up from the hospital. It's fine for you to drive when you can perform an emergency stop without pain or discomfort. This may be the case after just a week for some people, but others may need to wait a little longer.
Why choose HCA UK

Why choose HCA for knee arthroscopy?

  • Fast access to appointments: We'll confirm your initial appointment within 24 hours 
  • Experts in knee arthroscopy treatment: You'll be seen by an expert orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in knee treatments, who'll talk you through your full range of options
  • Patient satisfaction: We're proud to report that 96% of patients in our 2022 patients’ survey would recommend our orthopaedic services to friends and family
  • Official standards: All our surgeons are members of the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) and follow their code of standards
  • A leading private hospital group: We're the number one provider of private orthopaedic care in London, according to Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN)
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How much does knee arthroscopy cost?

The final cost of your keyhole knee surgery may be influenced by differing factors, such as your condition and any additional treatment you require. You can pay for the treatment via self-pay or through your medical insurance provider.

How to book an appointment

Book an appointment with a knee arthroscopy consultant

Get in touch with us to discuss your options for arranging keyhole knee surgery. We'll confirm your appointment within 24 hours of you getting in touch or being referred to us.

Private knee arthroscopy surgery Consultants

Mr Mazin Ibrahim

Mr Mazin Ibrahim

Orthopaedic Surgery

Mr Rob Pollock

Mr Rob Pollock

Orthopaedic Surgery

Mr Richard Carrington

Mr Richard Carrington

Orthopaedic Surgery

Mr Jonathan Miles

Mr Jonathan Miles

Orthopaedic Surgery

Our Private knee arthroscopy surgery locations

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

170 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7HA London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London
The Wellington Hospital

The Wellington Hospital

8A Wellington Place NW8 9LE London

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.