Meniscus Tear Repair

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What is a Torn Meniscus?

A torn meniscus is defined as damage in the knee cartilage, typically occurring between the two connecting cartilages. The meniscus tissues require a lot of blood supply to heal and hence, the primary goal of the medical procedure is to preserve the healthy meniscus tissues by allowing sufficient blood supply to regenerate the damaged tissues.   

Meniscus Tear Repair

Meniscus Tear Repair is a medical procedure recommended by doctors to repair damaged knee cartilage. The knee consists of two C-Section cartilages, one from the thigh bone and one from the shin bone, both of which connects itself to each other in the knee joint. The cartilage in the knee allows you flexibility in movement, walking, running, etc.

What causes Meniscus Tear?

Sudden friction caused by trauma or injury to the knee joints is one of the most common causes for a meniscus tissue tear.  Even though this is quite a common athletic injury, the chances of a meniscus tear might increase with the increase of age, primarily because of loss of cartilage in the knee joint area.

Symptoms of Meniscus Tear

Signs for this condition might be negligible with a lot of cases documenting no prior warning of this condition. However, if you experience a meniscus tear, usual symptoms will be in the form of

  • Acute Pain in the knee
  • Difficulty in movement or flexing
  • Swelling along with fluid or pus accumulation
  • Joint stiffness and locking
  • A popping sound during movement
  • Sensitivity in the knee

 

Diagnostic tests needed

Diagnosis for a meniscus tear usually starts with a physical examination. You will be asked to share any past physical injury or treatment records. Apart from that, the doctor may also recommend some imaging tests like X-Rays or MRIs to determine the exact location or intensity of the damage and subsidiary neurological damage in and around the affected area.  

Treatment methods

  • The usual treatment method for meniscus tear can be in the form of meniscus removal, repair or replacement, based on the intensity of the condition and the patient’s age, weight and reaction to medicines, etc.
  • If the tear is mild or repairable, the orthopedic surgeon might prescribe Arthroscopic total or partial meniscectomy to remove or stitch up the torn tissues.
  • However, in case of low damage, the doctors usually opt for non-surgical treatment methods such as physical exercise and physiotherapy or the RICE technique (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation).
  • If the damage to the meniscus bone is found to be severe, doctors in that case usually recommend a surgical treatment to preserve the tissue damage.

Meniscus Tear Repair Process

Preparation

Patients are requested to share their medical history reports with the healthcare team. This includes past or present medical conditions, ongoing medicine doses including NSAIDs, Aspirin and other OTC, vitamins, herbal supplements and homeopathy medicine. Patients are requested to complete their dental visits a week 5 days before the surgery day since bacteria in the teeth can be released in the blood during a dental procedure. Doctors also advise patients to stay away from alcohol or tobacco consumption 3-4 days before the operation day. Apart from that, patients are also requested to contact the medical team about dietary regulations before the surgical procedure, if any. 

Explanation Video

Procedure

The surgical procedure for a meniscus tear heavily depends on the intensity or length of the tear. Usually, knee arthroscopy is one of the most common surgical method used to correct the damaged knee cartilage. In this procedure, a small incision is made in the knee and a small camera is inserted inside. This allows a clear view of the inside and the orthopedic surgeon then uses miniature surgery equipment to conduct the procedure. The surgery is conducted under regional, spinal or general anesthesia to avoid pain or discomfort during the surgery and the entire procedure takes about an hour and a half to finish.

Surgery Types

There are three primary surgery types that doctors follow based on the condition.

  • Arthroscopic Repair Surgery, where the doctor places a small device inside the knee to stitch up and repair the torn meniscus tear.
  • In Arthroscopic Partial meniscectomy, the doctor removes the damaged portion of the tissue which in turn allows the healthy tissues to continue with their normal functionality.
  • In Arthroscopic total meniscectomy, the doctor removes the entire meniscus tissue and replaces it with healthier ones.

Risks associated with Meniscal tear repair procedure

The meniscus tear repair surgery is usually a safe method. However, patients may suffer a 1-1.3% complication risk after the surgery which includes injury to the nerves in and around the area, infection in the cartilage joint, blood vessel clot, knee stiffness, etc. Additional care of surgical methods might be prescribed in case of a chronic complication.

Post-operation & at-home care

For the initial days after the surgery, patients might have to wear a brace, cast or fixator to keep the knee stable and crutches are recommended for walking. Please ensure not to put any strain or pressure in the damaged knee until the doctor prescribes otherwise. Even when the patient is discharged, he or she has to come for regular follow-ups or have a regular physiotherapist help them regulate their blood flow circulation to the knee through physical exercises.

FAQs

How long do I have to stay in the hospital?

The hospital stay for meniscus tear surgery varies from patient to patient but the general stay is for 3-4 days within which the patient is monitored for complications. Complications might extend your hospital stay depending on the type.

How long is the recovery time for meniscus tear surgery?

The recovery time is somewhere between 1-3 months. Usually, by the first month, the patient starts showing healthy progress and can be asked to try walking without the help of crutches.

What is the success rate for meniscus tear surgery?

The usual success rate goes up to 94% but do remember, the success of a meniscus tissue repair is heavily based on blood flow and knee stability.

Can a meniscus tear heal on its own?

The healing of the meniscus tear heavily depends on the blood flow circulation to the affected area. The better the blood flow, the faster the recovery rate. Treatment methods including exercises and knee braces can help cure mild or negligible tears.

Can I return back to normal life after the meniscus repair surgery?

Yes. Patients usually undergo a steady recovery and can return to their normal life based on their recovery rate. However, discussion with the medical team is important before you start with your day-to-day activities. 

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