Complications of Knee Arthroscopy

None of the surgical procedures, are free of complications including Knee Arthroscopy. Even though there have been very few complications in our hands, we are listing some of the common complications which can occur during or after Knee Arthroscopy.

  • Equipment failure
  • Infection
  • Failure of graft
  • Thrombophlebitis
  • Medical complications due to anesthesia

Equipment Failure:

The consoles for the light, camera shaver and ablator devices are all electronic gadgets. Even though these are checked immediately before the Arthroscopic Knee Surgery, they can fail anytime during the surgery. In events like these back-up consoles are always present in the theater. This could lead to delay in the surgery as these consoles are exchanged. Also the instruments used during Knee Arthroscopy are small and fragile. These instruments can be broken resulting in a piece of the instrument floating inside of the Knee Joint. The broken piece is usually easily located and removed, but this may again cause a delay in the surgery There is usually no damage to the Knee Joint due to the breakage.

Different types of surgical devices (screws, pins, and suture anchors) are used to hold tissue in place during and after Knee Arthroscopy. These devices can cause Knee Joint Problems. If one breaks, the free-floating piece may hurt other parts inside the Knee Joint, particularly the articular cartilage. The end of the tissue anchor may poke too far through the tissue and the point may rub and irritate nearby tissues. A Arthroscopic Knee Surgery may be needed to remove the device or fix problems with these devices.


Following Knee Arthroscopy, it is possible that a post-operative infection may occur. This is very uncommon and happens in less than 1% of cases. You may experience increased pain, swelling, fever and redness or drainage from the incisions.

Infections are of two types: superficial and deep infections.

A Superficial infection:

May occur in the skin around the incisions or portals. A superficial infection does not extend into the joint and can usually be treated with antibiotics alone.

Deep infection:

If the Knee Joint itself becomes infected, you will require antibiotics and possibly another surgical procedure to drain the infection.

Thrombophlebitis (Blood Clots)

Thrombophlebitis, sometimes called as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), can occur after any operation, but is more likely to occur following surgery on the hip, pelvis, and Knee. DVT occurs when blood clots form in the large veins of the leg. This may cause the leg to swell and become warm to touch and painful. If the blood clots in the veins break apart, they can travel to the lung, where they lodge in the capillaries and cut off the blood supply to a portion of the lung. This is called a Pulmonary Embolism. (Pulmonary means lung, and embolism refers to a fragment of something travelling through the vascular system.) Most surgeons always use a prophylaxis for preventing DVT. There are many ways to reduce the risk of DVT, but probably the most effective is getting you to mobilize and walk as soon as possible, after surgery. Two other commonly used preventative measures include.

  • Pressure stockings to keep the blood in the legs moving
  • Medications that thin the blood and prevent blood clots from forming


Anesthesia Complications

Most Knee Arthroscopic Procedures are done either under Spinal or General Anesthesia. A very small number of patients have problems with anesthesia. These problems can be reactions to the drugs used, problems related to other medical complications, and problems due to the Anesthesia. Be sure to discuss the risks and your concerns with your Anesthesist.