When you suffer a meniscus tear and nonsurgical treatment fails to relieve symptoms, surgical repair may be indicated. Torn knee cartilage is the term commonly used to describe a torn meniscus. Meniscus tears are a common cause of knee pain.
The meniscus protects the bones in the knee joint and stabilizes the joint so that your weight is evenly distributed on the knee for balance. When a tear alters the biomechanics of the knee it will affect joint stability and contribute to a progressive degeneration of the knee joint.
Preservation of the meniscus is vital to good knee function. The decision of which arthroscopic surgical procedure is right for you will depend on an evaluation of the ability of the meniscus to heal based on your age, health and activity level, and the size and location of the tear. Your OANC surgeon will recommend the treatment they think is best for you based on your condition.
Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair Surgery
Arthroscopic repair involves sewing together the torn edges of the meniscus to preserve function. Surgical repair is a good option for young patients with an acute tear when the location of the tear is supported by an adequate blood supply.
Arthroscopic Meniscus Debridement
Debridement involves washing out the joint and removing torn fragments of the meniscus, to relieve symptoms. During the procedure the torn fragments are removed leaving healthy cartilage in place.
Because the meniscus has a limited blood supply healing is difficult. Debridement is preferred over suturing the torn edges. It is a safe procedure with the normal risks involved with any surgical procedure. Debridement is very successful in decreasing symptoms which allows patients to return to their life. Recovery is short.
After surgery, you will likely need to use crutches for a few days, and return to normal daily activities within a week, and sports within two months. Physical therapy may be recommended to help you retain full function.
Meniscectomy is the surgical removal of part or all of the meniscus. During a partial meniscectomy the damaged parts of the meniscus are removed, and the frayed edges of the meniscus are trimmed to restore a smooth surface. The goal of surgery is to relieve symptoms.
Your surgeon will attempt to save as much of the meniscus as possible to prevent long – term degeneration of the knee and promote a full recovery. This procedure is typically performed in an outpatient setting and a majority of patients have good results. Recovery requires rehabilitation and return to normal activities within 2-4 weeks.
After the meniscus is repaired or partially removed, microfracture may be advised.
Microfracture surgery is designed to encourage bleeding to promote healing of the articular cartilage. This procedure creates tiny holes in the underlying bone to stimulate the release stem cells to repair the cartilage defects.
It is a valuable option for patients with limited cartilage damage, who are active and desire to return to activity. Microfracture can provide substantial pain relief in the right patient. It is not a good option for people with diffuse arthritis in the joint, for people who are sedentary, and for those who choose not to participate in rehabilitation after surgery.
For patients who are not good candidates for microfracture, meniscus transfer may provide relief and retain good function.
When the meniscus is severely damaged and cannot be repaired, it may require removal and replacement. If it is not removed and replaced, the articular cartilage at the ends of the bones can wear away resulting in osteoarthritis.
The goal of transplants is to prevent deterioration of the articular cartilage and restore normal knee function. Replacement of the meniscus with a transplant is vital to restore normal knee function in younger active patients. The meniscus transplant is obtained from a donor.
The donor cartilage provides support and stability and delays the onset of osteoarthritis.
Patients must meet strict criteria to be considered for a meniscal transplant. Transplants are not an option for elderly patients with arthritis. Transplant surgery is performed arthroscopically. Your OANC surgeon will determine whether a meniscus transplant is right for you.
At Orthopedic Associates of Northern California, we are committed to your success. Our surgeons are highly qualified in arthroscopic procedures and some are also fellowship trained in Sports Medicine. Contact us at our Chico, CA to get the correct diagnosis and learn about all your treatment options.