Meniscus Tear

What is a meniscus tear?

Meniscus tear is the commonest knee injury in athletes and at any age in active people, especially those involved in contact sports. A suddenly bend or twist in your knee cause the meniscus to tear. This is a traumatic meniscus tear. Elderly people are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the meniscus weakens with age. The two wedge-shape cartilage pieces present between the thighbone and the shinbone are called meniscus. They help stabilize the knee joint and act as “shock absorbers”.

What are the symptoms of meniscus tear?

Torn meniscus causes pain, swelling, stiffness, catching or locking sensation in your knee making you unable to move your knee through its complete range of motion. Your orthopaedic surgeon will examine your knee, evaluate your symptoms, and medical history before suggesting a treatment plan. An MRI may be needed. The treatment depends on the type, size and location of tear as well your age and activity level. If the tear is small and especially if the history is brief, nonsurgical treatment may be initially tried as some minor meniscal tears will ’settle’. However, if the symptoms do not resolve or worsen with nonsurgical treatment, surgical treatment may be recommended.

How is the surgical procedure for repair of meniscus tear performed?

Knee arthroscopy is the commonly recommended surgical procedure for meniscal tears. The surgical treatment options include meniscus removal (meniscectomy), meniscus repair, and meniscus replacement. Surgery can be performed using arthroscopy where a tiny camera will be inserted through a tiny incision which enables the surgeon to view inside of your knee on a large screen and through other tiny incisions, surgery will be performed. During meniscectomy, small instruments including shavers or scissors may be used to remove the torn meniscus. In arthroscopic meniscus repair the torn meniscus will be pinned or sutured depending on the extent of tear.

Meniscus replacement or transplantation involves replacement of a torn cartilage with the cartilage obtained from a donor or a cultured patch obtained from laboratory. It is considered as a treatment option to relieve knee pain in patients who have undergone meniscectomy. This operation has a lot of controversy and is rarely used.