Meniscus – Partial Removal (meniscectomy)

The meniscus is a tough, fibrocartilaginous ring, which is broad on the outside and very thin on the central aspect.  Each knee joint has 2, one on the inner side of your knee (medial), which is “C” shaped and one on the outer side of your knee (lateral), which is more similar to an “O” configuration.  They rest between the joint surfaces of the lower aspect of the thigh bone (femur) and the upper aspect of the leg bone (tibia) and function to distribute weight between the two cartilage surfaces.  The meniscus can be torn, most commonly with loaded twisting or hyperflexion (bending).  In addition, if your knee ligaments tear and permit a rapid shift of the two joint surfaces, the meniscus can also be damaged.  When the meniscus tears, pain, swelling, and popping or clicking may result.  More often than not, it is difficult to identify one point in time when the injury occurred.   The outer 1/3 of the meniscus has reasonable blood supply, but the inner or central 2/3 is similar to ‘gristle’ with poor ability to heal itself either with rest or following a repair.  Examination shows significant joint line tenderness.  Swelling and stiffness may also be present.  An MRI of your knee confirms the diagnosis.  Left untreated, it is highly likely that the meniscus will tear further and possibly damage the tread (articular) cartilage that surfaces the femur and tibia.  Using tiny incisions for a viewing lens (arthroscope) as well as small baskets and shavers, the damaged or torn portion of the meniscus can be safely removed during outpatient surgery.  Great care is taken to preserve as much normal meniscus as possible.  You are generally able to walk out of surgery, but must limit your activities for several weeks. Exercises restore range-of-motion and leg strength.  Full recovery requires 6 – 10 weeks.

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