Knee Arthroscopy

Your operation was performed by arthroscopic methods. The interior of your knee joint was visualized using a small telescope, and the diagnosis was made. Appropriate surgery involving the removal or repair of damaged, torn, degenerative or abnormal tissue was performed using special micro-instruments.

Upon discharge, you will be given a prescription for pain medication that can be filled at either the hospital or a local pharmacy. The pain medication can be taken every 3 to 4 hours as needed. The medicine will help decrease the level of pain, but it is not meant to completely eliminate the pain. Some pain is expected. If you develop itching, skin rash, nausea or vomiting, please discontinue the medicine and call the office. Additionally, narcotics can cause constipation if used for an extended period of time. If this occurs, you should decrease the use of the prescribed medicine, and increase fluid, roughage and fruit intake in your diet. Please do not use Aspirin for 3 days after surgery unless you have OK’d it with your surgeon.

The use of ice decreases both swelling and pain. You may apply an ice bag over the knee dressing for two to five days after surgery unless otherwise instructed. If you were given an ice water knee wrap, please follow the instructions provided.

Elevate your leg above the level of your heart while at rest. This will help decrease swelling, and secondarily decrease pain. Leg elevation and frequent ankle motion will also decrease the rare chance of phlebitis (blood clots in the calf). If calf pain, tenderness or swelling develop contact your surgeon.

Your surgery was performed arthroscopically, and therefore you may notice pink fluid soaking your dressing for the first several hours after surgery. This is not unusual and should stop soon after you get home. Your incisions have been closed with suture or skin tape, covered with gauze pads and held in place with an Ace wrap or Tubigrip stocking. Please remove the dressing in 24 hours, but leave the suture or skin tape intact—the skin tape will fall off on its own in 7-10 days. You may cover the incision sites with Bandaids or gauze dressings and reapply the compressive wrap to aid in swelling reduction. Do this each day until the swelling is gone.

The small incisions may be sore and you may develop bruising in the area of the surgery as well as down your leg over the next several days. This will go away, and no special care is needed. If your wounds become painful, red, hot or of concern for infection, please contact your surgeon.

It is safe to shower or bathe 72 hours after surgery. You may wash the incisions with regular soap and water, dry them, and cover them with new Bandaids. Do not remove the sutures or skin tapes. You should not soak your knee under water for at least one week, and should avoid hot tubs or pools for two weeks.

You should rest, relax and make arrangements to have someone stay with you for at least 24 hours after discharge. Do not drive any vehicle or operate mechanical equipment the day of your surgery. Even though you feel normal, your reaction time may be affected by the medication you have received. You may resume normal daily activities, return to work and school, and drive a car as tolerated the day after surgery, unless otherwise instructed. Crutches are often required after surgery to ease mobilization. You may discontinue the crutches as your pain and strength improve and when you can walk without a limp, unless otherwise instructed. If more extensive surgery was undertaken, special instructions will be provided, including prolonged immobilization and/or protected weight-bearing.

Drink clear liquids (apple juice, ginger ale, broth, 7-Up, etc.). Progress to your regular diet as you feel able. Do not drink alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours following your surgery. If you become nauseated, wait one-half hour and then begin taking water, 7-Up or apple juice in small amounts.

If you develop a fever (temperature over 101°), unexpected or severe pain, redness, or swelling, please contact the office for consultation or examination. Occasionally, there is minor swelling of the foot. This can usually be relieved by elevation of the leg, and loosely reapplying a compressive wrap (Ace wrap) around the knee region. If you develop pain, tenderness, warmth, or swelling in your calf, please contact the office immediately.

At the time of your preoperative visit, you should have scheduled an appointment for physical therapy. Your home therapy program can begin the day after your surgery. An appointment to see your Surgeon or Nurse Practitioner will be made for one to two weeks following your surgery to check your wounds and discuss your surgery. Probably the most important thing to remember about your knee surgery is that the post-operative rehabilitation is as important as the surgery. Your surgeon and therapists will monitor your rehab program, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to discuss the situation with either of them.

Emergency Calls:
If you have a problem of an emergency nature and are unable to reach your doctor, go to the Altru Hospital Emergency Room (phone: 701-780-5280); or your nearest hospital or emergency facility.

Contact Your Physician (Or His Alternate) If You Have Any Problems:

  • Fever greater than 101 degrees orally or if at all questionable.
  • Chills
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Separation of the incision
  • Excessive swelling or tenderness
  • Unusual drainage: pus-like drainage (white, yellow, or greenish in color); any excessive drainage
    from the area; foul odor from the incision or dressing.
  • Change in color around the area; excessive redness may indicate infection
  • Change in temperature around the area: unusual warmth
  • Increased pain in operative area