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Meniscus Surgery

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What is Meniscus Surgery?

Meniscus surgery is a common orthopedic surgery involving the removal or repair of a torn meniscus, a piece of cartilage in the knee. The goal of meniscus surgery is to preserve healthy meniscus tissue, but depending on the severity and location of the tear, your knee surgeon will make the best recommendation for your specific condition.

Meniscus Tear

The meniscus is a C-shaped disc of cartilage that connects the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). They act as shock absorbers and give stability to the knee. Athletes who participate in sports with sudden and forceful twists, turns or collisions are particularly susceptible to meniscus tears, but so are those who have physically demanding jobs that involve lots of kneeling, deep squatting, or heavy lifting. In older adults, degenerative changes of the knee can contribute to a torn meniscus with little or no trauma due to the menisci gradually weakening over time.

Treatment Options for a Torn Meniscus

Initial treatment for a torn meniscus often begins conservatively except in severe, traumatic injuries to the meniscus. Your knee surgeon will conduct a physical examination and will likely order imaging such as X-rays and an MRI to help formulate the best treatment plan. Whether your torn meniscus will require surgery or not will greatly depend on the following:

  • Size, kind, and location of the tear
  • Your age and activity level
  • Related injuries (e.g., ACL Tear)
  • Presence of symptoms (pain, swelling, locking, buckling, etc.)

Nonsurgical treatments for a torn meniscus may include:

  • R.I.C.E. Method: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen or aspirin to control swelling
  • Corticosteroid/cortisone injections into the knee to reduce the swelling
  • Physical therapy to restore range of motion and strengthen the knee.

Surgical Meniscus Tear Treatment

Meniscus tears can be treated by meniscus removal (meniscectomy), meniscus repair, or in unusual cases, meniscus replacement. The goal of meniscus surgery is to preserve healthy meniscus tissue; however, the meniscus requires blood supply to heal and only the outer third portion of the meniscus has blood supply to enable the healing process to occur. Therefore, meniscus repairs are generally limited to this peripheral region of the meniscus. Your specific meniscus repair surgery depends on the location of the injury, tear pattern, and healing potential of the tear.

  • Meniscus repair is performed by sewing the severed meniscus together using high-strength sutures or special implants. Most meniscus repairs are performed through a minimally invasive arthroscopic technique. If your meniscus tear pattern is located near neurovascular structures or the procedure requires reattachment to bone, a combination approach of traditional and arthroscopic procedures is used.
  • Partial Meniscectomy is the removal of only the torn segment of the meniscus. This procedure is done arthroscopically and typically has good short- and long-term results, as long as the meniscus tear is relatively small in size.
  • Meniscectomy involves the removal of the entire damaged meniscus tissue. This procedure has good short-term results but can lead to the development of knee arthritis ten to twenty years later due to a loss of cushioning and the diminished stability of the knee joint that occurs after a meniscus is removed.
  • Meniscus replacement is generally reserved for younger, active patients who have previously had most of their meniscus removed and developed pain in the area without having advanced degenerative changes to the articular (gliding surface) cartilage. A meniscus replacement or transplant involves replacement of the damaged cartilage with a meniscus from a cadaver (deceased donor).

Trust the Knee Surgeons at Newport Orthopedic Institute

Our board-certified, fellowship-trained Orange County knee surgeons are skilled at treating meniscus tears. You will receive a custom treatment plan to help you get back to doing the things you love doing.

Do you have a meniscus tear?
Call Newport Orthopedic Institute at (949) 722-7038.

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