Menisci are crescent-shaped, fibrocartilaginous structures and their main function is to absorb vibrations (like shock absorbers) in the knee joint. Menisci may be torn as a result of an injury (e.g. when playing sports) or degenerate as a result of daily stress due to age or increased body weight.
The symptoms vary from moderate pain during extreme movements, to edema and mechanical block to motion (inability to extend the leg) in more serious cases. A clinical examination combined with an imaging scan (the MRI is the examination of choice) help provide a diagnosis. In most cases, the treatment of choice is arthroscopic repair (using a camera through 2-3 very small incisions, 5-7 mm each), to avoid damaging the articular cartilage and/or extending the existing meniscus tear.
Available surgical techniques
- Partial meniscectomy:
Only the damaged part of the meniscus is resected, up to the margins of the healthy meniscus. Hospitalization time is 1 day. Recovery time is usually 4-5 weeks.
- Meniscal suturing:
For young patients suturing of the torn part is often selected. The criteria are age, as well as the type and extent of the tear. Hospitalization time is 1 day. Recovery time is usually 10-12 weeks.
Upon exiting the operating room, the patient requires little or no analgesia and antibiotic prophylaxis. This technique permits quick joint mobilization to avoid stiffness and/or muscle atrophy.