Washington Bullets center/forward Jeff Ruland, 27, who has missed 43 games this season because of illness and injury, will undergo arthroscopic surgery today on his left knee, probably ending the season for the injury-plagued, fifth-year veteran.

Bullets team physician Carl MacCartee will perform the procedure at 1:30 p.m. at Sibley Memorial Hospital, one day after Ruland traveled to Rochester, N.Y., to have the knee looked at by specialists.

"The doctors there thought that surgery would be the best thing, and so it's going to be done," said Bullets General Manager Bob Ferry.

According to Ferry, there is no specific area of the knee that is scheduled to be corrected.

"What they do is go in and look around. Sometimes all they do is clean out the area."

Ferry also said that whatever the operation entails, it more than likely will end Ruland's season, in which he played only 30 games.

At last night's Bullets-Mavericks game, Ruland said, "They're probably just going to do some trimming in there." He declined further comment.

Ruland broke his right ankle Nov. 11, and, after returning to action, strained his left knee in a game on Feb. 24. He missed Monday night's game against Philadelphia, after playing in the two previous games -- a loss to Philadelphia last Friday and a victory over Indiana the next night. At halftime in the Indiana game, his knee began to swell.

Before his return last Friday, he had missed the Bullets' 12 previous games because of what was diagnosed as a strained knee. But he said then that he thought there was more damage to the joint, recalling that it felt like it did in the last game of his junior year at Iona College. He needed arthroscopy that time, too.

With a 19-point average in 30 games, he was the second-highest scorer for the Bullets, and his rebound average of 10.7 was the best on the club.

Last season, he played only 37 games because of a sore shoulder.

He had played at least 75 games in each of the three years before that. During his best season, in 1983-84, he averaged 22.2 points a game and played in the All-Star Game.