The meniscus is a band of cartilage in the knee that acts as a shock absorber and provides stability to the knee joint. The meniscus helps protect the articular cartilage, the smooth covering on the ends of the femur and tibia. If a meniscus tears, it can often be repaired through arthroscopic surgery.
Small incisions are made in the front and back of the knee. A tiny video camera called an arthroscope is inserted into the joint. Surgical instruments may be inserted through the other incisions. After finding and inspecting the area of damage, the surgeon decides how to treat the damage.
The damaged area is cleared of loose fragments. If the tear is located in an area of the meniscus that does not receive a good blood supply, that portion of meniscus may be removed completely.
Tears that are in an area of the meniscus with a good blood supply are usually repairable because the blood supply promotes healing. The surgeon uses sutures or special fasteners known as anchors to sew or anchor the torn edges of a meniscus together. The meniscus will then heal itself.
End of Procedure and After Care
Following repair, the incisions are closed with sutures or small bandages and the knee is wrapped and iced to control swelling. The knee may be immobilized for several weeks before rehabilitation begins. If part of the meniscus was removed, weight-bearing and rehabilitation may begin soon after surgery.