Meniscus Repair

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.   An MRI confirms the diagnosis.  The outer 1/3 of the meniscus has relatively good blood supply. If the tear in the meniscus is located in the peripheral portion, and is relatively vertical, or torn from one of its bony attachments in the center of the knee, it may be repairable.  Through tiny incisions, a lighted viewing lens (arthroscope) and special instruments can be delivered into the knee.  The meniscus tear can be freshened to stimulate healing and then repaired by passing multiple sutures across the tear to sew it back together.  In some instances, small fixation devices can be implanted and assist with the securing the repair. Because the meniscus may be relatively slow to heal, the knee must be protected from weight bearing (by using crutches) for approximately 6 – 8 weeks.  Physical therapy assists in regaining motion and leg strength.  Healing is successful in 65 – 80% of repairs depending on the site, size, and length of time since the tear occurred.  Full recovery may require up to 5 months.

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