So what is it like to have a knee arthroscopy?

Dr. Miniter has just experienced the process and so is in a good position to tell you how it will feel and share the recovery process with you

Day 1 :
I attended Calvary John James hospital for the afternoon list, having done my own operating list in the morning at National Capital Private Hospital. The registration process required me to fill in some forms, present my private health documentation and then have my blood pressure taken and my height and weight measured. My consent form was checked to make sure that the operation I was booked to have was correct.

I was then asked to wait in the day surgery centre and, when the time was right was asked to put all my personal belongings into a locker that was secured whilst I was to be in the operation. Wearing your own underclothes is a good idea!
Having been called to theatre, I was put on a trolley, my consent form was checked yet again and I was taken to the operating theatre complex, escorted by as nurse and a wardsman.

My surgeon and anaesthetist then came to see me. Usually the anaesthetist comes to interview you in the operating complex and not in the ward, unless of course you are having a bigger operation that might require more preparation.
My leg was marked with an indelible texta to recheck the side of the surgery and I was then suddenly in the operating room. A drip is put into the back of my hand and then… I am waking up … in the recovery area. Because of the amnesic effects of the drugs that you receive, patients rarely remember much about the process of going to sleep. I gradually woke up. The nurse checked my BP and temperature.

So what does it feel like? There is a slightly tight feeling around the knee that has been operated upon but there was little or no pain. The nurses will ask you whether you need any pain relief. When I was more awake, I was asked to sit out of bed; I dangled my legs over the edge to let the blood drain back into my legs, like you do when you get up from bed and then stood up. I felt a little groggy, as you do after having a general anaesthetic but was more than able to function, bear weight on my operated leg and then had a little walk. My partner was then called form the waiting room.

Going home occurs reasonably quickly but you need to allow a couple of hours at least to let the drugs wear off, get dressed, get your bearings and then go home. I didn’t need crutches and would not usually suggest that crutches be used for this sort of operation.

Importantly, I had already started the exercises that are appropriate for quadriceps function! These are on my youtube site as a video and should really be started as soon as you can after surgery.
Watch exercises after surgery video.

At home, I applied the ice sleeve that I give my own patients after knee surgery. It is to be used for about 20 minutes each hour and a half or so. It feels great! The cooling effects are very pleasant. There is a video that shows you how to use this sleeve, on my website Watch Ice Sleeve application Video

The important thing to remember is to not plan anything for the rest of that day. You feel a little groggy and you are definitely not allowed to drive a car, by law. There is no way that I could have done so safely, anyway.

I started my regular simple pain drugs, this being 2 tablets of Panadol every 4 hour period by day, up to a maximum of 8 per day. As the anaesthetist gives you an anti-inflammatory drug intravenously as part of the operation, I was not to take any Nurofen till the following day. Just to be sure, I took one Panadeine forte tablet before going off to bed about 9 pm. Panadeine Forte contains a substantial dose of codeine and thus makes most people, including me feel a little sleepy. I slept very well!

To be continued…