Minimally Invasive Surgery - Knee

Cedars-Sinai's Orthopaedic Center is a leader in minimally invasive techniques for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for multiple areas including knees, hips, and shoulders. With the use of small incisions, customized instruments, and innovative imaging techniques, many procedures may be performed with less pain and blood loss, and minimal scarring. The result is a more rapid recovery and higher patient satisfaction.

The knee is a hinge joint between the femur (thighbone) and the tibia (shin) and is protected in the front by the patella. Cartilage on the ends of each bone cushions the joint while ligaments run along the sides and front of the knee connecting the primary bones together.

Over time, the cartilage that cushions the joint can deteriorate causing pain and stiffness that comes when bones rub directly against each other. Patients frequently report that they originally hear a popping or clicking sound when pressure is applied to their knee and that as time progresses they begin to feel pain (or pressure) when walking or climbing/descending stairs.

Knee Arthroscopy

Knee Arthroscopy is one such surgery that is routinely performed with good outcomes using these minimally invasive techniques. Arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure in which a joint (arthro-) is viewed (-scopy) using a small camera. Arthroscopy gives doctors a clear view of the inside of the knee which helps them diagnose and treat knee problems.

Arthroscopy is performed through small incisions. During the procedure, your orthopaedic surgeon inserts the arthroscope (a small camera about the size of a pencil) into your knee joint. The arthroscope sends the image to a monitor where the surgeon can see the structures of the knee in detail and can then repair or remove the damaged tissue by placed additional surgical instruments through other incisions around the knee.

Standard surgery compared to minimally invasive technique

The standard, traditional surgical incision is between eight to 12 inches long. The incision is made through tendons and muscles to help position the replacements parts that will be used for a knee surgery. Generally, patients can expect to have a two to three month recovery time while undergoing rehabilitation to help avoid future stiffness and pain.

With a minimally invasive approach, the surgery requires significantly less incision (usually three- to four-inch) and less muscle dissection since the procedure can be performed by separating the muscles and tendons rather than cutting them. Patients experience a shorter recovery time and shorter hospital stay as well as decreased blood loss during surgery.

You may be a candidate for minimally invasive knee surgery if:

  • Your primary care physician or orthopedic surgeon has told you that you need a knee replacement
  • Your knee is stable and you have little bone loss around the knee
  • You have not had prior open knee surgery on the same knee