In this Section
Meniscus Surgeries and Repair
Meniscus tears can be relatively painless, especially when they are small and in less active patients. Larger meniscus tears can be quite painful, however. They can lead to locking, swelling, pain, and can lead to an increase in size of the meniscus over time – especially in the active patient.
The meniscus surgeries usually involve trimming out the torn portion of the meniscus. This is known as a partial meniscectomy. During this procedure, only the portion of meniscus that is torn is removed and the healthy remaining meniscus is preserved. The size and configuration of the tear determines how much meniscus is removed.
The meniscus portion of the knee is an important structure. It contributes to the stability of the knee, provides cushioning, distributes forces over a larger area, and reduces contact stress to help preserve the articular cartilage of the knee.
Small meniscus tears can easily be removed with little or no measurable impact on the knee. However, the loss of large sections of meniscus can lead to pain, swelling, and long-term arthritic changes. For these reasons, when possible, meniscus repairs are preferred over meniscectomy.
In order for the meniscus to be repaired and heal successfully, certain criteria must be met. First, the knee must be free of arthritis. The tear must also be near the outer edge of the meniscus so that it has a blood supply to allow for healing. Finally, the tear must also be in a configuration that allows for repair.
Unfortunately, less than 10% of meniscus tears are repairable. Studies have shown that as many as 40% of patients undergoing a meniscal repair may require further surgery due to incomplete meniscal healing.
Minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques are utilized to repair the meniscus. Patients who undergo a meniscal repair must be more cautious postoperatively, and typically have more restrictions, than those undergoing a partial meniscectomy.