Arthroscopy means 'looking into a joint'.

Page updated September 2023 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)



Surgeon with the camera in one hand and an instrument in the other.

arthroscopy view of normal cartilage


View of the joint cartilage of the femur above and the tibia below.


Technique of arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure, where the surgeon operates on the knee through several small cuts (portals), and using long, fine instruments.

Light is shone into the knee through an instrument called an arthroscope, which has a small lens at the far end to angle the light beam. The same instrument has attachments to allow an inflow under pressure of sterile water-based fluid to expand and wash the joint, and an outflow under suction to extract any tissue which has been cut away.

The surgeon and assistant observe the image on a monitor at head level, and have to navigate from that image, so it is quite a complex discipline to master. 

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