When the meniscus becomes torn, and the tear is small, treatment with physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory medications may be successful. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse with non-surgical treatments, then you may require a knee arthroscopy or keyhole surgery.
This involves the creation of tiny incisions in the knee to insert a miniature camera and surgical instruments to perform an operation. Depending on the type, size and location of the tear, the meniscus may be trimmed or repaired.
Partial meniscectomy means the damaged tissue is trimmed away. It is used when the tear will not heal even if stitched back together. This is because it is either too severely damaged or the tear is in a part of the meniscus that does not have a blood supply and therefore will not heal.
Meniscus Repair means suturing or stitching the torn pieces together. This will depend on the location of the tear and the condition of the meniscus when it is assessed at the time of surgery. In a repair, the stitches are placed using special instruments such that it can all be done arthroscopically.
To ensure the greatest degree of success, a meniscal repair is ideally performed within the first few months following the tear.
Because this is an outpatient procedure (day case) you will usually be able to go home the same day. Arrange for somebody to be with you to assist you home and stay with you the first night.
After a partial meniscectomy, recovery is usually quick and most activities can be resumed within 2 to 4 weeks.
If you require a repair, the meniscus must heal back together and so a brace is used and recovery is longer. Physiotherapy is an important aspect of this procedure and will be prescribed to ensure that your meniscal repair is most effective.
Early objectives are to reduce swelling, straighten the knee and regain muscle control. Low impact activities such as swimming will be encouraged from about 6 weeks and most patients will recover after 3 to 4 months.