The two wedge-shaped cartilage pieces present between the thighbone and the shinbone are called menisci. They stabilize the knee joint and act as shock absorbers. A sudden bend or twist in your knee can cause the meniscus to tear. This is a traumatic injury to the knee. A meniscus tear is the most common knee injury in athletes, especially those involved in contact sports. Elderly people are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the cartilage wears out and weakens with age.
A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling, stiffness, catching or locking sensation in your knee, making you unable to move your knee through its complete range of motion. Your orthopaedic surgeon will examine your knee, and evaluate your symptoms and medical history before suggesting a treatment plan. The treatment depends on the type, size and location of the tear, as well as your age and activity level. If the tear is small, with damage in only the outer edge of the meniscus, nonsurgical treatment may be sufficient. However, if the symptoms do not resolve with nonsurgical treatment, surgical treatment may be recommended.
Knee arthroscopy is the commonly recommended surgical procedure for meniscal tears. The surgical treatment options include meniscus removal (meniscectomy), meniscus repair and meniscus replacement. Knee arthroscopy uses an arthroscope. A tiny camera is inserted through a tiny incision to enable the surgeon to view the inside of your knee on a large screen. Through other tiny incisions, surgery is performed. During meniscectomy, small instruments called shavers or scissors may be used to remove the torn meniscus. In arthroscopic meniscus repair, the torn meniscus will be pinned or sutured, depending on the extent of the tear.
Meniscus replacement or transplantation involves the replacement of a torn cartilage with a cartilage obtained from a donor or a cultured patch obtained from a laboratory. It is considered as a treatment option to relieve knee pain in patients who have undergone meniscectomy.