Second-look knee arthroscopy, otherwise known as diagnostic knee arthroscopy, is a second surgical procedure for assessing the post-operative knee. In the past it has been used by surgeons to guide decision making and observe post-operative healing. However, in asymptomatic knees, orthopedic surgeons are increasingly using non-surgical methods for post-operative evaluation. This includes high quality magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Dr. Marx discusses this move away from second look arthroscopy in an article published in the April issue of Orthopedics Today. In the article, “Time to take another look at second-look knee arthroscopy,” Dr. Marx and other prominent orthopedic surgeons discuss the reasons why second-look knee arthroscopy is and isn’t appropriate in various cases.
There are many reasons why surgeons use non-invasive methods to evaluate the knee post-operatively. Many surgeons, including Dr. Marx, do not want to perform surgery if the patient doesn’t have any symptoms after surgery. In the recent article, Dr. Marx says, “If I do an operation on someone and they are symptom-free, I may be interested to see what is going on, but I will not subject that patient to another operation, the risks of surgery and the recovery, because I do not feel it is in their best interest…” As with any procedure in the operating room, second-look arthroscopy involves risks of anesthesia, infection, and thromboembolic disease. Additionally, second-look arthroscopy requires a recovery period, which may cost the patient time and wages. It is important for surgeons to weigh the risks of these complications against benefits obtained from second-look arthroscopy.
One benefit of second-look arthroscopy is its contribution to research. Some surgical studies may include second-look arthroscopy to gain more information about a specific surgical treatment for the knee. When second-look surgery is performed as part of a research protocol, it is always discussed ahead of time with the patient. After discussing the research protocol, patients always have the choice to participate or opt out.
To learn more about second- look knee arthroscopy, read the full article: