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Knee arthroscopies are surgeries where tools and cameras are inserted into the knee joint through small incisions. This is one of the most common procedures performed by orthopedic surgeons. Although they are common, there are still major health risks.

In a recent American Journal of Sports Medicine study, researchers used data from the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery database. They determined the type and frequency of complications for patients who underwent knee arthroscopy for a partial meniscectomy, meniscal repair, chondroplasty, microfracture, anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, or posterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.

There were 4305 complications out of 92,565 knee arthroscopic procedures for an overall complication rate of 4.7 percent. The complication rates were highest for posterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (20 percent) and anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (9 percent). Complication rates for meniscectomy, meniscal repair, and chondroplasty were 2.8 percent, 7.6 percent, and 3.6 percent, respectively.

The complication rate for sports fellowship–trained surgeons was higher than for non–sports trained surgeons, yet the authors of the study mention this difference may be due to the more complicated surgeries done by the sports fellowship-trained surgeons. Male patients were at higher risk. Patients less than 40 years old had a higher complication rate than older patients. There were no geographic differences. Surgical complications were more common than medical or anesthetic complications, and infection was the most common complication overall.

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