What is an arthroscopy?

An arthroscopy is a surgical technique used to examine the inside of a joint. It involves making small incisions around a joint such as the knee, and inserting a thin tube (approximately 5 millimetres in diameter) into the area. The tube is known as an arthroscope. It has a fibre-optic light source and a camera or magnifying lens attached. This technique enables the surgeon to view real-time images of the joint, without large incisions. If a clean-up or any minor interventions are required, then miniature instruments are guided into the joint via the arthroscope or through additional small incisions around the joint.


Why might I need an arthroscopy?

Arthroscopic knee procedures are useful for diagnosing, and sometimes treating, knee conditions. They are typically conducted if non-surgical management strategies for knee pain have failed, and it is suspected that the pain originates from damaged cartilage or soft tissue. Upon examining the knee joint, your surgeon may decide to perform additional procedures via the arthroscope. As such, an arthroscopy may be performed to:

  • Remove or repair a torn meniscus. This involves undergoing a meniscectomy (meniscus removal) or meniscus repair.
  • Treat knee sepsis (i.e. an infection).
  • Drain excess fluid.
  • Repair or reconstruct an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
  • Repair cartilage. This involves undergoing what’s known as a chondroplasty.


References (2019). Arthroscopy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Aug. 2019]. (2019). Knee Arthroscopy - OrthoInfo - AAOS. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Aug. 2019].