Arthroscopic and Reconstructive Knee Surgery

Arthroscopy is a surgery Dr. Ignacio performs, to inspect, diagnose, and treat problems inside the knee joint.

Arthroscopic and Reconstructive Knee Surgery

Arthroscopy is a surgery Dr. Ignacio performs, to inspect, diagnose, and treat problems inside the knee joint.

What is Orthopedic Surgery?

Arthroscopy literally means “to look within the joint.” During arthroscopy, Dr. Ignacio inserts a small camera, into your knee joint.

The camera displays pictures on a video monitor, and she uses these images to guide miniature, specialized surgical instruments.
Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, Dr. Ignacio can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incisions needed for standard, open surgery.

This results in less pain and stiffness for patients and shortens the time for rapid recovery and return to getting back in the game, back to work, and their favorite activities.

Dr. Elizabeth Ignacio, MD

Dr. Ignacio is fellowship-trained and board-certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery as an expert in minimally invasive advanced arthroscopic and reconstructive orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, to return you back to activity as safely and quickly as possible.

She has been in practice for two decades, and has trained other surgeons, both on the continental US and here in Hawai‘i, and she is honored to be chosen as a Master Instructor at the prestigious international Masters Course in arthroscopy, for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the Arthroscopy Association of North America.

Who is it for?

With certain specific types of injuries, or when other conservative treatment options have been utilized without success, surgery may be the best option for long-term, definitive positive results.  Dr. Ignacio may recommend knee arthroscopy due to the type of injury, your desired activity level, or if you have a painful condition that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Nonsurgical treatment includes rest, physical therapy, and medications or injections that can reduce inflammation.  Knee arthroscopy may relieve painful symptoms of many problems that damage the cartilage surfaces and other soft tissues surrounding the joint.

Common arthroscopic procedures for the knee include:

  • Meniscus repair, transplantation, or partial meniscectomy
  • Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
  • Transplantation, Repair, Reconstruction, or Trimming of damaged articular cartilage
  • Removal of inflamed synovial tissue 
  • Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage
  • Treatment of patella (kneecap) problems

What to Expect After Arthroscopic Knee Surgery?

After surgery, you will be moved to the recovery room and should be able to go home within 1 or 2 hours. Because of the anesthesia, you must have someone with you to drive you home.While knee arthroscopy is minimally invasive and recovery is predictably faster than recovery from traditional open knee surgery, it is important to follow instructions carefully after you return home.  That is why you are given a handout of the postoperative expectations and instructions one week prior to your surgery, at the pre-op visit with Dr. Ignacio, so you have time to review the instructions.

Pain Management

After surgery, you will feel some pain, and this is a natural part of the healing process.  Medications are prescribed for short-term pain relief after surgery. Many types of medicines are available to help manage pain, like anti-inflammatories to help with the swelling, opioid pain medications, and local anesthetics. Fortunately, it’s been Dr. Ignacio’s consistent experience that her patients have only needed the pain medication for just a few days at most.

Opioids are a narcotic and can be addictive. Opioid dependency and overdose has become a critical public health issue in the U.S. It is important to use opioids only as directed and to stop taking them as your pain begins to improve. 


In addition to medicines for pain relief and swelling (which is a source of pain and stiffness), Dr. Ignacio may prescribe anti-nausea medication for patients sensitive to anesthesia and pain medications.  She also  may recommend medication such as aspirin to lessen the risk of blood clots.

Swelling and Weight-Bearing

Keep your leg elevated at an angle as much as possible for the first few days after surgery. Also, ideally there should be nothing placed under the knee which, although more comfortable, will keep the knee bent and can cause the knee to scar in a bent position.  Apply ice as recommended to relieve swelling and pain. The need for a brace, and your weight-bearing status after surgery will be dictated by what is performed during the surgery.

Dressing Care

You will leave the surgical facility with a dressing covering your knee. Keep your incisions clean and dry for 48 hours. No soaking/immersion, such as in a bath, pool, hot tub, or ocean, for 2 full weeks.  

Rehabilitation Exercise

Because arthroscopy, by definition, is surgery on a joint, mitigating swelling and stiffness, as well as recovery of strength and flexibility is optimal for full recovery.  Dr. Ignacio is a proponent of physical therapy after arthroscopic surgery, again reiterating that half of the success comes from the surgery, but the remaining half of the overall success is based on compliance with the rehab rules and protocol afterwards. Working with a physical therapist is the best way to return to activities quickly but safely.

How successful is arthroscopic knee surgery?

Many people return to full, unrestricted activities after arthroscopy. Your recovery will depend on the type of damage that was present in your knee, as well as your postoperative commitment and compliance to the rehab protocol.  Half of the success is due to the surgery, but the remaining half of the overall success and functional recovery is the rehab afterwards.  

Unless you have had a ligament reconstruction, meniscus repair, or cartilage restoration surgery, you should be able to return to most physical activities after 6 to 8 weeks, or sometimes much, much sooner. 

The overall goal always is to get you back to any and all activities you’d like to do, as quickly yet safely as possible, with a continued focus on peak performance and injury prevention longterm.

Conditions Treated