A meniscal tear is one of the most common knee injuries and occurs most often in athletes. The meniscus is a circular piece of cartilage with blood supply coming from the outer rim. In order for the meniscus to heal, the tear must be near the outer edge in an area of good blood supply. If the tear is in the central portion, then it will not heal even with surgery, and will need to be removed during the procedure.
Meniscectomy refers to the removal of the meniscus. The procedure is minimally invasive and is performed arthroscopically. Moderate to large tears of the meniscus typically necessitate surgery.
Who is a candidate?
Candidates for meniscectomy are young, have tears in their meniscus in a region that cannot benefit from surgery. Typically, these types of tears are not expected to heal on their own,and fragments of loose cartilage may be causing knee pain.
Who is not a candidate?
Patients with meniscal repairs that are responsive to home treatment or may be eligible for meniscal repair are not good candidates for meniscectomy.
Like other surgeries, meniscectomy requires certain general surgery procedures such as preoperative blood testing, and cessation of smoking or use of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs one week prior. You will likely be asked to stop eating or drinking the night before the surgery.
Immediately after meniscectomy, you will be able to walk, but may need to use crutches and a knee brace. The majority of patients return home on the day of surgery. You will be given pain medication, and most patients see a significant reduction in knee pain and return to most normal activities in 4-6 weeks. However, reduction of pain and swelling, and improvement in knee strength, motion and coordination may continue for 3-4 months after surgery.
As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications related to infection or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Other known complications include injury to nerves and blood vessels. However, meniscectomy is typically well-tolerated with a low risk profile compared to other orthopedic surgeries.
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