Meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries, caused by forcefully twisting or rotating your knee while putting pressure on it. The meniscus is the cartilage that acts as a cushion between your shinbone and thighbone, and though nonsurgical therapies may be of some benefit, many require meniscus surgery.
The surgery used to treat a meniscus tear is called meniscus repair. It is often performed using knee arthroscopy, which is a surgical procedure where a camera, called an arthroscope, is inserted into the knee via a small incision. Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to view the knee and procedure on a monitor and perform the meniscal repair by inserting small instruments through a few other small incisions around the knee.
The most beneficial aspect of meniscus repair is the relief of pain and the return of full range of motion and strength in your knee. The procedure is minimally invasive, and unlike traditional open surgery, it involves considerably less pain and scarring, as well as a faster recovery.
Meniscus repair is performed under general anesthetic. This means you won’t be awake during the procedure. A local anesthetic might also be injected to aid in the numbing of the surgical area.
The surgeon will make a tiny incision in the knee and insert a camera through the incision. This lets your doctor inspect the damage and determine the extent of the tear. Small instruments are then inserted into other tiny incisions to either trim away the damaged meniscus or repair it by stitching the torn pieces together.
The incisions are then closed using special tape or stitches and covered in dressings.
Meniscus surgery treats a torn meniscus by trimming or repairing the tear, depending on what is needed. The procedure is able to relieve the symptoms associated with meniscus tears, including:
- A popping sensation in the knee
- Knee pain
- Locked knee
- Limited range of motion
Preparation instructions will be provided prior to your meniscus surgery. These instructions may include the following:
- Avoid certain medications and supplements. Tell your doctor about any drugs that you are taking, including any recreational drugs or supplements. You will be asked to stop taking medications that increase the risk of bleeding, such as ibuprofen, and aspirin. Medications that increase the risk of blood clots, such as birth control pills, may also have to be stopped in the two weeks before surgery.
- Consult with your physician. You need to talk to your doctor about any illnesses or viruses you are experiencing leading up to the surgery.
- Do not eat or drink 6 to 12 hours prior to surgery. Food and drink should be avoided for 6 to 12 hours before meniscus repair. You will be advised as to exactly how long to fast before surgery and how to take any medications allowed the morning of the surgery.
- Arrange a ride home from the airport. While we take care of your transportation throughout your visit to our base surgical center, including your transport to and from the airport, you will want to have someone waiting for you at the airport to take you home. At ARO, our goal is to minimize the amount of things you have to think about during your stay with us, making this process as easy for you as possible.
Failure to follow the instructions provided could result in the postponement of your surgery.
Following your meniscus surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room where you will be monitored for an hour or two before being released. You may need to wear a knee brace or cast to restrict movement and you will need to use crutches for one to four weeks.
Prior to your procedure, your ARO surgeon will work with your primary care physician and rehab facility in your area to setup your post-op care program. Rehabilitation exercises will assist with your recovery and help you regain mobility and strength in your knee. Recovery time may take anywhere from three weeks to three months depending on the extent of the damage that was repaired during your meniscus surgery.