Arthroscopic chondroplasty is a commonly performed surgical procedure during knee arthroscopy. Specifically, chondroplasty is performed to smooth damaged cartilage in the knee in order to lessen friction in the joint. It is an option in cases of mild to moderate cartilage wear. During arthroscopy, the loose cartilage flaps and debris within the knee are removed using an arthroscopic shaver, without damaging normal healthy cartilage. The goal of surgery is to eliminate catching and locking from these loose pieces of cartilage, and to try to prevent propagation of these chondral flaps so that healthy cartilage will grow to replace it.
The procedure is performed through small incisions on the sides of the knee and insertion of a thin surgical instrument with the aid of a small video camera called arthroscope. The arthroscope sends the image to a television monitor. On the monitor, the orthopedic surgeon can see the structures of the knee.
Arthroscopic chondroplasty is performed as an outpatient procedure. The recovery time for this procedure is much faster than traditional open knee surgery, because it is done using arthroscopy. Most patients need crutches or other assistance after completion of this procedure. Crutches are important to help regain a proper range of motion and to ensure the knee heals correctly.
Although the recovery time varies by patient, for faster recovery it is important for the patient to use crutches and adhere to the rehabilitation exercises prescribed by the orthopedic surgeon and the physical therapist. Typically, patients are able to drive to work in one to three weeks after the procedure.