The most common type of sport injury is meniscus tear. Torn meniscus is actually torn cartilage in the knee. It usually occurs in the athletes and those who are playing contact sports (basketball, soccer, etc.). In this case the most helpful treatment is surgical procedure. Non surgical treatment is needed only when the tear is small.
There are two procedures used for treating meniscus tear: meniscectomy or meniscus repair and meniscetomy for removal of meniscus tear.
Firstly, it is necessary to conduct arthroscopic evaluation. It is used to determine presence of meniscus tear. MRI isn’t very precise but it can show location and type of tear on which further treatment depends.
Removal of meniscus tear
Arthroscopy procedure consists of 2 or 3 incisions in the knee. Usually it will be in area of medial and lateral to the patella, above the knee cap and outside your knee. One incision spot is used for checking the knee joint by a a thin tube containing light and small camera which is called arthroscope. The other two portals are for tools needed in the procedure and third for draining of arthroscopic fluid.
In the process ACL and PCL, articular cartilage surfaces, medial and lateral meniscus, femoral groove and undersurface of patella are also being evaluated.
Afterwards, depending on surgeon’s opinion meniscus tear will be either repaired or removed. Location of the tear inside meniscus is key factor for the decision. The one that is found in middle area of meniscus will be removed and the one located toward the outside can be repaired.
After meniscus tear removal, tools and arthroscope are put away and incisions are closed with sutures and staples. Meniscectomy can be total or partial. Once the meniscectomy is finished orthopedic surgeon will be able to tell how much of the meniscus was removed.
Meniscectomy doesn’t cause complications though sometimes there is a risk of nerve damaging and rarely lead to osteoarthtitis and cause knee arthritis.
Additionally, meniscectomy can be done with general or regional anesthesia.
It may take 4 to 6 weeks for the recovery. It depends on percentage of meniscus loss, age, activity and general health condition.
Several days after meniscectomy patient may need to use crutches though sometimes patients are advised to walk right away. In other cases the knee may be put in cast or brace to prevent moving. Rehabilitation is commonly carried at home and sometimes physical therapy as well as resting and cold compresses are advised.