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Minimally Invasive Knee Surgery

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Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) represents a significant shift in knee surgical procedures, aiming to reduce the impact on the patient’s body while achieving the same, if not better, outcomes as traditional open surgery. MIS techniques have revolutionised knee surgery by offering patients reduced scarring, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery times. This post will explore what minimally invasive knee surgery entails, the benefits it brings, and what patients can expect from such procedures.

What is Minimally Invasive Knee Surgery?

Minimally invasive knee surgery is performed through smaller incisions than those used in traditional knee surgery. This approach uses specialised instruments and advanced imaging techniques, allowing surgeons to navigate through smaller openings and causing less disruption to the surrounding tissues.

Types of Minimally Invasive Knee Surgery

  • Partial Knee Replacement: Also known as unicompartmental knee replacement, this procedure is an option for patients with damage limited to just one area of the knee. It requires a smaller incision and less bone removal.
  • Total Knee Replacement: While more invasive than partial replacement, the total knee replacement can also be performed using MIS techniques. Specialised instruments and computer-assisted technology allow for precise placement of the prosthetic components through smaller incisions.
  • Arthroscopic Surgery: This technique uses a small camera (arthroscope) and instruments inserted through small incisions to repair or remove damaged tissue. It’s commonly used for meniscal tears, ACL reconstruction, and removing loose bodies.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Knee Surgery

  • Reduced Pain and Swelling: Smaller incisions result in less tissue damage, which can significantly reduce post-operative pain and swelling.
  • Quicker Recovery: Patients often experience a faster recovery period, returning to normal activities and work more quickly than with traditional surgery.
  • Less Scarring: Smaller incisions lead to less noticeable scars.
  • Shorter Hospital Stay: Many MIS procedures are performed as day surgeries or require only a short hospital stay.
  • Lower Risk of Infection: Smaller wounds may reduce the risk of post-operative infections.

Candidates for Minimally Invasive Knee Surgery

Not all patients are suitable candidates for MIS. Ideal candidates typically have:

  • Localised Knee Damage: Patients with damage confined to a specific part of the knee are better candidates for partial knee replacements.
  • Optimal Body Mass Index (BMI): A lower BMI can reduce the risk of complications and make MIS more feasible.
  • Good Overall Health: Patients in good health are more likely to have a smooth recovery.

The Surgical Procedure

MIS procedures vary depending on the type of surgery but generally follow these steps:

  1. Anaesthesia: Patients receive either general anaesthesia or spinal/epidural anaesthesia. Our preference is to have spinal anaesthesia as recovery is quicker and pain relief after the operation is better.
  2. Incision: Surgeons make a small incision with less soft tissue damage.
  3. Surgical Repair or Replacement: Surgeons use specialised instruments and imaging to perform the surgery with precision.
  4. Closure: The incision is closed with absorbable stitches or staples.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Recovery from MIS typically involves:

  • Immediate Post-Op Care: Short-term pain management and possibly physical therapy within hours after surgery.
  • Rehabilitation Programme: A tailored physical therapy plan is critical for recovery and usually begins soon after surgery.
  • Follow-Up: Regular check-ups to monitor the healing process and the function of the knee.

Risks and Considerations

While minimally invasive, these procedures still carry risks such as infection, blood clots, and potential complications related to anaesthesia or the surgery itself. A thorough discussion with a healthcare provider is necessary to weigh these risks against the benefits.


Minimally invasive knee surgery has provided a valuable option for those needing surgical intervention for knee issues, with the added benefits of a less traumatic procedure and a more rapid recovery. If you are considering knee surgery, discuss with your surgeon whether a minimally invasive approach is appropriate for your condition.

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