The principles of anaesthesia for all arthroscopic operations are similar. The operations are quite minor in nature and around 40 minutes to 1 hour in duration in most cases.
They are usually performed as day cases where you are admitted, operated on and discharged from hospital on the same day.
An arthroscope is a long, thin, rigid telescope which is inserted into a joint.
This is connected to a video camera and the inside of the joint can be examined. The surgeon can then operate using other small instruments inserted into the joint to correct and repair any damage or remove fragments of cartilage.
During the operation, the joint is distended with saline to improve the view of the joint.
Most arthroscopic procedures are performed under general anaesthesia.
A general anaesthetic is started with the insertion of an intravenous cannula. An airway tube is inserted into your throat when you are asleep. This may leave you with a sore throat for a short time after you wake up.
The amount of anaesthesia given is tailored to let you be wide-awake to go home the same day in most cases.
Occasionally for a knee or ankle arthroscopy, a spinal anaesthetic is given.
A spinal anaesthetic involves the injection of local anaesthetic into the spinal fluid using a very fine needle. This temporarily numbs the body from the waist down and stops leg movements. The effect gradually wears off. There is no pain from the operation while the spinal is working.
See the spinal page for more information.
Your anaesthetist will prescribe a suitable strong analgesic (pain killer) for you post-operatively.
As with all anaesthetics, it is important that you do not drive a car, operate any complicated machinery or sign legal documents for 24 hours after your operation.