Definition of Meniscectomy

Meniscectomy is surgical operation to remove part or all of a damaged meniscus in the knee. Each knee has two menisci, C-shaped pads of cartilage that cushion the ends of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) as they come together within the knee joint.

Meniscus tears are common athletic injuries and occur when there is torsion under pressure-the body above the knee twists suddenly during movement but the foot remains planted. Most of the time the orthopedic surgeon can perform a partial meniscectomy with arthroscopy (minimally invasive surgery using a specialized endoscope), which allows rapid recovery and return to regular activities.

Why Meniscectomy

Cartilage, which is very dense, does not have its own blood supply but rather draws necessary nutrients from surrounding tissues and fluids. Tears near the outer edge of the meniscus are more likely to heal than tears in the center of the meniscus. The surgeon may attempt to repair an outer tear though will likely need to remove the damaged segments of meniscus when the tear is interior.

The goal is to remove as little of the meniscus as possible because without it the bone ends loose protection. It is equally important to remove any pieces of the meniscus that are torn or fragmented to prevent them from “jamming” the joint.

The Risks and Recovery

The risks of meniscectomy include excessive bleeding during surgery and postoperative infection, both of which are rare. Full recovery after arthroscopic surgery takes about six weeks and after open surgery may take up to six months.

Even after healing, complete meniscectomy may limit some athletic activities that place significant stress on the knee, such as downhill skiing.

See also KNEE INJURIESPHYSICAL THERAPYSURGERY BENEFIT AND RISK ASSESSMENT.

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