BACKGROUND: Recent studies have demonstrated morbidity associated with elective knee arthroscopy. The objective of the current study was to quantify resource utilisation and costs associated with postoperative complications following an elective knee arthroscopy. METHODS: We undertook a retrospective, longitudinal cohort study using routinely collected hospital data from Victorian public hospitals during the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2009. A generalised linear model was used to examine relative cost and length of stay for venous thromboembolism, joint complications and infections. Log-transformed multiple linear regression and retransformation were used to determine the excess cost after adjustment. RESULTS: We identified 166,770 episodes involving an elective knee arthroscopy. There were a total of 976(0.6%) complications, including 573 patients who had a venous thromboembolism (VTE) (0.3%), 227 patients with a joint complication (0.1%) and 141 patients with infections (0.1%). After adjustment, the excess 30-day cost per patient for venous thromboembolism was $USD +3227 (95% CI: $3211-3244), for joint complications it was $USD +2247 (95% CI: $2216-2280) and for infections it was $USD +4364 (95% CI: $4331-4397). CONCLUSION: This is the first study to quantify resource utilisation for complications associated with elective knee arthroscopy. With growing attention focused on improving patient outcomes and containing costs, understanding the nature and impact of complications on resource utilisation is important.