A meniscus tear is a common injury to the cartilage that stabilizes and cushions the knee joint. The pattern of the tear can determine whether your tear can be repaired. See a picture of different types of tears . Radial tears sometimes can be repaired, depending on where they are located. Horizontal, flap, long-standing, and degenerative tears-those caused by years of wear and tear-generally cannot be repaired.
Who needs meniscus repair surgery?
Tears of the meniscus that cause so-called “mechanical symptoms” tend to respond best to surgical treatment. A mechanical symptom is caused by the meniscus physically impeding the normal movement of the knee. Common “mechanical symptoms” include:
- Locking of the knee (unable to bend)
- Inability to fully straighten the knee
- A popping or clicking sound or sensation
- In the operating room, the surgeon has two primary options, either remove the torn meniscus (a partial meniscectomy) or perform a meniscus repair to place the edges together with sutures or tacks.
MENISCAL REPAIR – how is it done and how successful is it?
With meniscal repair, tiny stitches are placed into the meniscal cartilage to close up and hold a tear. However, like any tissue, this does not guarantee that the tissue will actually heal up. If the meniscal tissue fails to heal then it is likely that eventually the tiny sutures will tear and fail, and the knee will remain symptomatic. However, the average success rate for meniscal repairs healing up successfully is approximately 90%, which is pretty good for any surgical procedure. If the repair does heal up successfully, then a patient should expect to make a full recovery with no major long-term consequences.
Is A Meniscus Repair Better?
The meniscus is a circular piece of cartilage with its blood supply coming from the outer rim. In order for the meniscus repair to heal, the tear must be near this outer edge in an area of good blood supply (nutrients from the blood vessels are necessary for healing)–this is the so-called red (vascular)-white (non-vascular) region of the meniscus.
Tears in the central portion of the meniscus will not heal even if a meniscus repair is performed. These central tears will be removed by your surgeon. However, studies seem to show that if a meniscus repair is possible, the long-term outcome is better for the patient because of a decreased the risk of arthritis later in life.
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