A meniscus tear is an injury to the cartilage that
stabilizes and cushions the knee joint. The type of tear often
determines whether it can be repaired or not and the location of the
tear will determine the type of procedure that will be used. Radial
tears may be successfully repaired, depending on where they are located.
Horizontal, flap, long-standing, and degenerative tears generally
cannot be repaired.
Your physician will recommend the
treatment that he or she thinks will work best for you based on the zone
where your tear is, the pattern of the tear, and how big it is. Your
age, your health, and activity level may also affect your treatment
options. In some cases, the surgeon makes the final decision during
surgery, when he or she can see the how strong the meniscus is, where
the tear is, and how big the tear is.
Small tears at
the outer edge of the meniscus often heal with rest and home treatment.
Moderate to large tear at the outer edge of the meniscus more commonly
require surgery to repair and typically heal well after surgery. A tear
that spreads from the outer edge into the inner two-thirds of the
meniscus can be more challenging to repair and the success of surgery is
less likely. Tears to the inner meniscus are not typically done because
the meniscus may not heal after surgery. In these cases a partial
meniscectomy in which torn pieces of the meniscus are removed may be
done to help reduce pain and swelling.
repair the meniscus may be done by open surgery, in which a small
incision is made and the knee is opened up so that the surgeon can see
inside the knee and the meniscus can be repaired. Increasingly, surgeons
use arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus. The surgeon inserts a
thin tube (arthroscope) containing a camera and a light through small
incisions near the knee and is able to see inside the knee without
making a large incision. Surgical instruments can be inserted through
other small incisions. The surgeon repairs the meniscus using sutures
(stitches) or anchors.
Always tell your physician or
nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you
bought without a prescription. During the two weeks before your surgery
you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood
to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen
(Naprosyn, Aleve), and other drugs. Ask your physician which drugs you
should still take on the day of your surgery.
have diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions, your surgeon
may ask you to see your doctor who treats you for these conditions. Tell your physician if you have been drinking more than one or two drinks of alcohol per day. If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor for help. Smoking can slow down wound and bone healing. Always let your doctor know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you have before your surgery.
On the day
of your surgery you will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything
for six to 12 hours before the procedure. Be sure to take any medicines
your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water. Your physician or physician’s office will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
physician may recommend that you do not move your knee more than
absolutely necessary (immobilization) for two weeks after surgery. This
may be followed by two weeks of limited motion before you are able to
resume daily activities. Physical therapy should begin right after