What is this procedure?
Meniscal surgery can be performed as part of a knee arthroscopy if damage to the meniscus (shock absorber cartilage) is found.
Looking from the top, each meniscus is shaped like a horseshoe, with a triangular cross section, wider on the outer edge and narrower as it goes into the knee joint. The wide part, around the outer edge receives a good blood supply and therefore injuries here have the potential to heal if repaired. However the inner two thirds lacks a blood supply so is not able to heal.
If a tear is repairable, this can be done using stitches that are specially designed for keyhole use.
If a tear is not repairable then the loose part is trimmed away. This leaves a gap in the meniscus but it can stop the tear extending further into the meniscus and relieves any symptoms due to the loose edge catching during knee movements.
Recently meniscal scaffolds have been developed which can be implanted into the gap. These can encourage regrowth of the meniscus.
Who should consider this operation?
If you have a meniscal tear and it is causing symptoms that affect day to day activities or sports, then meniscal surgery may be required. In most cases, a trial of pain relief tablets and physiotherapy should take place first but in the case of a locked knee (if your knee is fixed in a certain position due to a torn meniscus which is caught up in the knee joint) surgery is done on an urgent basis.
What are the benefits?
Like other arthroscopic surgery, meniscal surgery is minimally invasive and can provide good symptom relief if you have damage to the meniscal cartilage. In the case of a large tear, repair of the meniscus may help to prevent future development of arthritis.
What are the risks?
Even if a torn meniscus is repaired very well, it does not always go on to heal. This can lead to failure of the repair in the future and a need for further surgery to the meniscus. Other potential complications are as for knee arthroscopy.
What happens in the post-operative period?
The post-operative period is as for knee arthroscopy.
The video below shows a detailed explanation of the causes and presentation of Meniscal Tears. They show a basic outline of the procedures used by Amir Qureshi and after care required in order that you, the patient, may recover to your full fitness once again.