Meniscus Repair Overview
The meniscus is an important structure to the knee joint located on both the inner and outer aspect of the knee. The meniscus is a fibrocartilage structure which acts like a shock absorber to the joint while patients are walking, running, jumping and performing everyday activities and sports activities. Inside the knee joint between the bones are two areas of c-shaped cartilage, commonly referred to as the “menisci.” The menisci not only act as a shock absorber to assist with the heavy load applied to the knee, but also act as a secondary knee stabilizer assisting the four main ligaments. If the meniscus experiences a significant tear, it cannot function properly and a meniscus repair or debridement is necessary. Dr. Nikhil Verma, knee surgeon serving the communities of Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois, performs torn meniscus surgery in cases where the meniscus needs to be repaired so patients have full knee function.
A meniscus tear causes knee pain on either the inside or outside of the joint, swelling, tenderness directly above the knee joint line and catching, locking or clicking. Small, less severe tears can be treated with non-operative measures such as physical therapy or injections. More significant tears that do not respond to non-operative measures or cause mechanical issues within the joint generally require meniscus surgery. The type of torn meniscus surgery depends on location and type of tear, associated knee injuries, patient’s activity level and patient’s age.
Meniscus surgery is designed to preserve the knee cushion pads aiding in a reduced risk of future arthritis. Most cases of meniscus repair are performed on younger patients whose menisci have ample blood supply, or when the knee is being reconstructed during an ACL reconstruction surgery. Dr. Verma will utilize an arthroscopic surgical technique to sew the meniscus back together during a torn meniscus surgery. Saving the meniscus is extremely important to Dr. Verma, but certain cases will require the removal of the tear for proper healing.
Dr. Verma will perform a meniscectomy if the meniscus has a small symptomatic tear, a tear in the inner third of the meniscus or if the meniscus is torn or shredded beyond repair. The goal of a partial meniscectomy is to remove only the damaged area of the tear. The remaining area of the meniscus is smoothed down so a patient does not experience further tearing. Dr. Verma will take great care during the meniscus surgery to remove only the damaged area and leave as much healthy meniscus as possible.
Tears in the outer (peripheral) one third of the meniscus or larger tears that Dr. Verma believes can be repaired are treated with an arthroscopic and open surgery technique. A small incision on either side of the knee is created to complete the fixation after the damaged area is repaired arthroscopically. Strong sutures are placed through the tear to bring the tissue back together and then tied to secure the meniscus.