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Cartilage Injury Surgery by Arthroscopy

Cartilage is firm yet flexible tissue that covers the ends of the knee bones. This tissue allows the bones to slide against each other and protect them from friction. 

This cartilage can be damaged for mechanical causes, in other words blows, sharp turns or continuous stress in the case of athletes, or because of genetic factors or disease like arthritis. Damaged, inflamed cartilage can cause pain and restrict movement. It can also damage and deform joints.

Benefits of the Operation

Cartilage injuries are treated by knee arthroscopy. This technique, which is currently the standard treatment for knee disorders and which is constantly improved, makes it possible to access structures that are deep inside the knee and are difficult to reach with a complete view from the inside. This technique treats knee problems suffered by patients, who usually suffer from pain and restricted movement. It is especially common in athletes and patients with degenerative problems.

Medical-technical description

The treatment depends on the extent to which the cartilage is damaged and where the injury is. It may be a simple shave, microfracture (perforations to stimulate pseudocartilage production) or cartilage grafts. 

Usually, two 0.5 cm incisions are made around the knee to gain access to the damaged area and a tiny camera and specific instruments for each type of injury are then inserted. Sometimes, more incisions may be required, according to the condition to treat.

About the operation

Knee arthroscopy takes place in the operating theatre, and generally requires a tourniquet or blood pressure cuff around the thigh. Spinal anaesthesia is generally used in these cases, for a more comfortable post-operative period and far less pain than experienced with conventional knee surgery. The procedure takes between 30 and 60 minutes. Patients generally spend a night in hospital and are able to go home the following day. On release, you will be given a release report setting out the recommendations, treatment to follow and subsequent appointments.

Before the operation

  • The patient goes to the doctor's office for a prior consultation, decisions are taken and the doctor explains the surgery in detail and gives the patient an informed consent.
  • You must take a list of all the medications you use (including medicinal plants) to the hospital with you on the day of your surgery.
  • You will have pre-surgical tests consisting of a full blood test, biochemistry, coagulation, chest x-ray and ECG.
  • You must wash the surgical site with antiseptic soap on the night before and on the morning of the surgery. If you wish, you can shave the knee and half way up your thigh at home on the day before the operation.
  • You must obtain two crutches or walking sticks, because you will need these for a few weeks after the operation.
  • If you are to have your surgery in the morning, you must not eat or drink anything that morning. If the surgery is to take place in the afternoon, have an early breakfast then do not eat or drink anything after 9 am.
  • You must remove all metal objects during the operation (rings, bracelets, earrings, body piercings, etc).

Post-operative care

  • For the first days after the surgery you may suffer some discomfort or swelling, which will disappear when you take the medicine prescribed by the surgeon.
  • A compression bandage will be applied. You must leave this on until you go to have the wound dressed for the first time.
  • Correct rehabilitation is necessary, so on the first few days you must not travel or do any strenuous or violent movements.
  • You will start moving on the day after the operation. Unless your surgeon tells you otherwise, you will be able to walk immediately, although it is advisable to use two walking sticks or crutches to help you walk on the first few days.
  • On release, you will be given a set of exercises to do at home every day.
  • You will receive anti-clotting and antibiotic treatment while you are in hospital.
  • After you are released, you should contact us if you suffer from chest pain or have breathing difficulties, swelling or reddening in one of your legs, sharp pain in the knee on which you have had the surgery, fever or shivering.

The importance of immediate rehabilitation

  • Correct rehabilitation is essential after an operation of this type. Rehabilitation should start as soon as possible and on the first few days you must not travel or do any strenuous or violent movements. That is why we recommend that before you go back to your country you should spend at least eight days doing rehabilitation at our Casaverde rehabilitation centre.
  • This will help you to improve muscle tone and for the muscles affected by the surgery to gradually become stronger, which will reduce the risk of falling or complications.
  • This will optimise mobility of the joint affected and reduce any pain and/or discomfort that may appear after the surgery.
  • Improves trophism – nourishes the tissues around the operation site and encourages correct healing and closure of the surgical wound.
  • Restores motor skills, giving patients help, guidance and re-educating them adopt walking patterns that will soon have them on the road to recovery.

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