What is a meniscus tear?
The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your femur (thighbone) and your tibia (shinbone). A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries. In the younger population, meniscus tears are typically the result of traumatic sports injuries, by twisting on a slightly flexed knee. In the older adult, a meniscus tear may be due to age-related degeneration of the meniscus or from wear-and-tear over time.
What factors determine the type of surgery I should have?
- Size of the tear
- Location of the tear
- Your age
- Activity level
- Related injuries
How do I know if I need a meniscus repair?
Even though the recovery is longer for a meniscus repair than for a partial meniscectomy, a meniscus repair should always be considered when:
- the patient is young, healthy, and wishes to remain active
- the patient understands the rehabilitation, and accepts the risks of surgery
- the meniscus tear is located in the periphery of the meniscus
- the meniscus tissue is of good quality
- there is little to no arthritis present inside the joint
Since the goal of surgery is to preserve healthy meniscus, meniscus repair is attempted whenever the tear is repairable. Only the outer third portion of the meniscus has blood supply to enable healing of a tear, so repairs are generally limited to this peripheral region of the meniscus.
What happens during a meniscus repair?
If your symptoms do not improve following conservative measures, Dr. Potts may recommend minimally invasive knee arthroscopy to help relieve your pain and restore the function of your knee. In certain cases, some meniscus tears can be repaired by suturing the torn pieces together. Arthroscopic meniscal repairs are typically performed for larger, peripheral tears where there is adequate blood supply for repair. During the procedure, Dr. Potts will place strong sutures through the tear in order to repair and stabilize the tear. Because the meniscus must heal back together, recovery time for a meniscus repair is much longer than of a partial meniscectomy.
Other treatment options for meniscus tears include partial meniscectomy and meniscus transplant.