Partial Meniscectomy Treatment, Surgery
If you have a tear in your meniscus, it is common to have pain and swelling in your knee. This can limit your activities and force you to modify your lifestyle. The meniscus is cartilage located between your femur and tibia on the inside and outside of your knee. This cartilage maintains the function of the knee, and if it is damaged, it can cause pain, swelling, difficulty extending or flexing the knee joint, feeling of “locking” of the knee and general weakness in the affected leg.
The treatment and surgery of a meniscus tear, a common knee injury, is determined by the extent of the damage to your meniscus. This is based on the size, location, stability and pattern of the tear, and your current lifestyle. Your orthopaedic surgeon will determine the need for surgery and the chance of surgery being effective based on a number of factors. They will look at your age, current health status and past medical history, past surgeries and medication you are currently taking. In a partial meniscectomy surgery, the surgeon removes the smallest amount of meniscus possible – typically only unstable meniscal fragments. The remaining edges are then smoothed, preventing frayed edges from occurring. This allows preservation of as much meniscal tissue as possible, preventing long-term degeneration of the knee and allowing you to resume all your activities after recovery.
Partial Meniscectomy Diagnosis
To determine if a partial meniscectomy is appropriate for your injuries, your physician will assess your symptoms, ability to perform activities, past history and recent stress to your knee. Talking to your doctor will give you important information about the condition of your meniscus and the extent of treatment that is necessary to repair a tear. Your doctor will also order diagnostic tests to objectively determine the extent of the injury, and to allow a visual examination of the internal structures of your knee. Some examples of diagnostic imagery include:
Plane X-Ray – This diagnostic test is usually the first performed to assess the presence of injuries associated with meniscal tears. An X-ray will not confirm or rule out the diagnosis of a meniscus tear, however, and is therefore not indicative for partial meniscectomy treatment. The bone will absorb electromagnetic radiation, and a black-and-white image will present, allowing the radiologist to view the patency of the bone.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Considered the “gold standard” of diagnosing a meniscus tear, an MRI will allow the radiologist to view the soft tissues surrounding the bone. Providing high-resolution pictures from various angles, an MRI offers 95% accuracy in detecting a meniscus tear, and will indicate whether a partial meniscectomy procedure is appropriate for your injuries. It will also allow for assessment of the collateral and cruciate ligaments, as well as cartilage surfaces, to ensure that the appropriate treatment will be prescribed for your individual needs.
Nonsurgical Treatment for Meniscus Tears
In some cases, a partial meniscectomy surgical treatment for a meniscus tear is not necessary. If there is only a small tear on the outer edge of the meniscus, treatment at home may be just as effective as surgical intervention. Your orthopaedic specialist will prescribe a treatment plan for you, which may include rest, elevation, ice or heat therapy, use of anti-inflammatories or compression with bandage wraps. While your meniscal tear is healing, you will need to significantly decrease your physical activity, allowing your meniscus to heal and preventing the tear from increasing in size.
Surgery for Meniscus Tears: Partial Meniscectomy
In some cases, meniscal tears may be more serious and require a partial meniscectomy surgical treatment. The goal of a partial meniscectomy is to relieve pain and restore function by removing damaged tissue while preserving healthy tissue. Partial meniscectomy procedures are usually performed using one of the following techniques:
Arthroscopic Procedure – The most common form of partial meniscectomy surgery, orthopaedic surgeons use this technique to both examine and treat the inside of a joint. The orthopaedic surgeon will insert a thin tube, called an arthroscope, into a small incision near the knee. A light and camera are located inside the tube. Other small incisions will allow the introduction of surgical instruments. You may undergo general or local anesthesia, and an arthroscopic partial meniscectomy is commonly performed as an outpatient. This minimally invasive technique decreases the risk of knee damage and enhances recovery.
- Open Knee Partial Meniscectomy – If the extent of the injuries is too complex, or for some other reason cannot be repaired using an arthroscopic approach, an open knee partial meniscectomy is a possible surgical option. While there are more risks and longer recovery associated with this method, it may be an important option to consider when the arthroscopic approach is not indicated. It is important to speak with your surgeon about the various procedures and which one is most appropriate in repairing your meniscus.
Partial Meniscectomy Procedure Research
Studies surrounding partial meniscectomy treatment and surgery indicate that 78-88% of individuals show positive results after this surgical treatment. This procedure has decreased their painful symptoms and allowed them to resume most, if not all, of their prior activities. Utilizing a partial meniscectomy approach, versus a total meniscectomy, will protect your knee from degeneration and preserve the quality of your activity and life.
The Rehabilitation Network of the North Shore-LIJ Health System is dedicated to providing you and your family with result-oriented, comprehensive rehabilitation services. Our goal is to help you and your loved ones find relief from pain and get moving again after an accident, illness, injury or surgery. We’re your partner in a safe, healthy, more rapid recovery.
The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute in New York performs Partial Meniscectomy procedures, along with a number of other treatments – both surgical and non-surgical – for bone and joint conditions and injuries.