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Diagnostic lower limb arthroscopy

A keyhole examination of the ankle, knee or hip joints

​Lower limb arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to evaluate and treat common problems affecting the joints

About

Knee, hip and ankle arthroscopy allows your consultant to see inside your joints using a tiny camera inserted through small cuts in your skin. This helps them to diagnose and treat common joint problems — including torn cartilage, ligament damage and arthritis — without open surgery.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Arthroscopy is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, meaning you'll be asleep. It can be done using local anaesthetic, which numbs the area being operated on. Your consultant will make a small cut in the skin near your joint and insert a thin metal tube that contains a camera and light (arthroscope). A sterile solution will be used to wash out your joint so that they can see inside it more clearly. If they identify a problem, specialised surgical instruments can be used alongside the arthroscope to repair it. This might include removing damaged cartilage or reconstructing torn ligaments. The procedure usually takes around 45 minutes.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. If you'll be having general anaesthetic, they'll let you know how long you should avoid eating or drinking beforehand. Before your arthroscopy, your consultant may suggest other non-invasive scans or tests, including a CT scan or MRI, to diagnose any problems with your joints. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    The procedure itself usually takes around 45 minutes. After the procedure, your consultant will remove the arthroscope and use stitches or adhesive strips to close the small cuts. You should be able to go home the same day, but occasionally you may need to be cared for in hospital overnight. You should arrange for someone to help you get home. Your recovery time will depend on the procedure you've had and whether further surgery is needed. Your consultant will let you know what to expect and how to care for the area while it heals. They'll let you know when you can get back to your usual routine, including work or exercise.
Consultant in theatres

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From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

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