A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling, stiffness, catching or locking sensation in the knee making movement through its complete range of motion painful or impossible. When diagnostic imaging suggests the disease or injury of the meniscus and conservative, non-surgical treatment has proven insufficient for your activity level; surgical treatment in the form of arthroscopic repair may be recommended.
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 small 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. Once taken to the operating room, anesthetized, and properly positioned; the surgeon makes two or three small incisions around the knee. A sterile saline solution is injected into the knee to provide a clear view and more room for the surgeon to work. During meniscectomy, small instruments called 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. After the repair, the knee joint is carefully examined for bleeding or any other damage. The saline is then drained from the knee joint. Finally, the incisions are closed with sutures or steri-strips, and the knee is covered with a sterile dressing.
Knee arthroscopy can take 45 minutes to over 2 hours dependent upon the extent and complexity of the injury. Most patients are discharged the same day after knee arthroscopy. Recovery after the surgery depends on the type of repair procedure performed. Recovery from simple procedures is often fast. However, recovery from complicated procedures takes a little longer. Recovery from knee arthroscopy is much faster than that from an open knee surgery. Pain medicines are prescribed to manage pain. Crutches or a knee brace may be recommended for several weeks. A rehabilitation program may also be advised for a successful recovery. Therapeutic exercises are important to restore full motion and strengthen the muscles of the leg and knee.