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EDUCATION CENTER: Therapies

Meniscal Repair

Overview
The meniscus is a disc-like cushion of cartilage located between the two bones of the leg (the femur and tibia). There are two menisci in each knee. These discs bear up to 70% of the load across the knee. The meniscus may be injured when the knee is bent or twisted while bearing weight. Meniscal injury can also be a result of overuse. Repetitive squatting or kneeling can cause meniscal wear and make it more likely to tear. Depending on the extent of the injury, the meniscus can be sewed back together or the injured area can be removed.

As techniques become more advanced and surgeons become more experienced with arthroscopic procedures of the knee, more and more procedures that previously required large incisions can be done with the arthroscope. In the case of meniscal injury, the meniscus can be seen and evaluated with the arthroscope. Repairable damage can be addressed and non-repairable damage can be removed. The decision between repair and removal can be difficult. The meniscus is thought to play a much larger role in keeping the knee healthy and stable than previously thought. Preservation of the most amount of the meniscus is desired.

Read Frequently Asked Questions about Meniscus Injury here.

Detailed Description
Specialist
Orthopedic surgeon

Procedure
Meniscal repairs, when possible, can be done through the arthroscope but rarely may still require a formal incision. Arthroscopic sewing techniques and instrumentation used for meniscal repair are being improved. When the meniscus requires removal, the minimum amount can be removed through the arthroscope. A meniscus transplant can be sewn in to replace meniscus cartilage that was previously removed.

Previously, a total meniscectomy (meniscus removal) was thought to alleviate the problems the meniscus injury caused. Now, removal is as limited as possible (called a partial meniscectomy). Long term results of total meniscal removal caused early arthritis, which is minimized with partial meniscectomies. This is facilitated through the arthroscope.

Recovery
Hospitalization: none
At home: 4 days-4 months

Complications/Risks

  • Infection
  • Failure to treat problem
  • Re-injury

Medications
Prescription and non-prescription pain relievers.

Follow up with your doctor if:
Pain, swelling, redness, drainage or bleeding increases in the knee or if you experience any symptoms suggestive of infection such as fever.

Last updated: 27-Aug-07


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