What Is the Difference Between Knee Surgery and a Knee Scope?

Arthroscopic knee surgery is one kind of knee surgery, referred to as "a knee scope," in which instruments are inserted into the joint through small incisions surrounding the knee. Cameras are included among the instruments, allowing surgeons to see inside the joint without an invasive cut to the knee.

The word "arthroscopic" is constructed of two Ancient Greek words. The first, "arthro-," comes from the noun "joint." The second word, "-scope," comes from the verb that means "to look" or "to view." So, literally, arthroscopic surgery means the type of surgery that is defined by the use of cameras to examine joints.

Another difference between a knee scope and other knee surgeries is that wounds are not always treated, or necessarily present, in order for an orthopedist to prescribe a knee scope. Because the procedure is minimally invasive it is effective in the diagnosis of injuries as well their treatment.

When minor wounds are treated during the process, they heal relatively quickly. In fact, recovery time is a major difference between the two types of knee surgeries. Patients treated by arthroscopic surgery are often able to return to normal activity within a matter of weeks after pursuing a course of physical therapy. Because the nature of the wounds treated by "normal" surgery is much graver, patients receiving fully invasive surgery recover much more slowly than do those who have been treated for minor injuries with arthroscopic surgery.