Surgical options for meniscus tears

An accident that occurs at work and causes violent twisting of the knee can result in a meniscus tear. The meniscus is a crescent-shaped structure made of cartilage that helps to stabilize the knee and absorb impact while walking or running. Each knee has two menisci, one on the inside (medial) and one on the outside (lateral).

According to WebMD, meniscus tears can range in severity. A mild tear may not require surgery, but a more serious one is more likely to. Depending on factors such as the size and location of the tear, surgical options can vary.

Repair versus meniscectomy

A surgeon may opt to repair a torn meniscus with sutures if doing so is likely to promote healing. A meniscus tear is more likely to heal if it occurs along the outer edge of the meniscus where there is a good blood supply.

If the tear occurs in the “white zone” of the meniscus, i.e., the inner two-thirds where there is little to no blood flow, the surgeon may perform a meniscectomy instead. A total meniscectomy, in which the surgeon removes the entire meniscus, is possible but rare. It is more common for the surgeon to remove only the torn portion of the meniscus via a partial meniscectomy.

According to the University of Wisconsin, repairing the meniscus is preferable whenever possible. However, recovery from a meniscus repair generally takes longer than a partial meniscectomy because the patient must stay off the knee to allow healing.

Arthroscopic versus open surgery

Whenever possible, doctors prefer to perform meniscus surgery arthroscopically rather than with an open procedure. Arthroscopic meniscus surgery is less invasive and involves a lower risk of postsurgical infection for the patient. However, a serious meniscus tear may require open surgery, which may involve a much longer recovery time.


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