Arthroscopic meniscal surgery is a surgical procedure that is used to repair or remove damaged meniscal tissue in the knee. Here are some common questions I get asked about the procedure:
1. What is the purpose of arthroscopic meniscal surgery?
The purpose of arthroscopic meniscal surgery is to repair or remove damaged meniscal tissue in the knee joint. The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions and stabilizes the knee joint. When the meniscus is damaged, it can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty with movement.
2. How is arthroscopic meniscal surgery performed?
Arthroscopic meniscal surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon makes two small incisions around the knee and inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the joint. The camera allows the surgeon to view the inside of the knee on a monitor, and small surgical instruments can be inserted through the other incisions to repair or remove the damaged tissue.
3. What is the difference between meniscal repair and partial meniscectomy?
Meniscal repair refers to a surgical procedure in which the damaged portion of the meniscus is repaired using suture type material. The goal of meniscal repair is to preserve as much of the meniscus as possible since the meniscus plays an important role in the stability and function of the knee joint.
Partial meniscectomy, also known as partial meniscal resection, refers to a surgical procedure in which a portion of the damaged meniscus is removed. This is typically done when the damage to the meniscus is too extensive to repair, or when the patient has significant degenerative changes in the knee joint. In these cases, as little of the meniscus is removed as possible to alleviate the patient’s symptoms while maintaining as much of the integrity of the meniscus as possible.
The decision to perform meniscal repair or partial meniscectomy will depend on the extent and location of the damage to the meniscus, as well as the patient’s age, overall health, and the presence of any other knee problems. In some cases, a combination of both procedures may be necessary.
4. How long does the recovery process take after arthroscopic meniscal surgery?
In general, for a partial meniscectomy, patients do not require a brace or crutches after surgery and can begin fully weightbearing from the same day after surgery. Patients will begin physical therapy within 1 week after surgery and continue therapy for 6-10 weeks. Full clearance for return to all sports is typically 6-10 weeks from surgery. Many patients return to work just a few days after surgery
For a meniscal repair, patients will require use of a brace and crutches for 4-6 weeks after surgery. Physical therapy will begin 2 weeks after surgery.
My specific and more detailed rehabilitation protocols can be found under the rehabilitation portion of my website.
5. Is arthroscopic meniscal surgery effective?
Arthroscopic meniscal surgery is effective for relieving pain and improving function in people with damaged meniscus tissue. However, the long-term success of the surgery can depend on the extent of the meniscal damage, the amount of osteoarthritis in patient’s knee, the patient’s age and overall health, and their commitment to the rehabilitation process.
6. How long does the surgery take?
Meniscal surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis, which means that the patient can go home the same day as the procedure. The length of the surgery will depend on the extent of the damage to the meniscus and the specific type of surgery being performed. In general, meniscal surgery is a relatively quick procedure and can usually be completed in 30 minutes to an hour.
7. When can I drive again after meniscal surgery?
In general, it is usually safe to drive when you are no longer taking pain medication and your knee is strong enough to support the weight of your body. Generally, for partial meniscectomy patients this is 1-2 weeks after surgery. For patients with a meniscal repair, it may take 4-6 weeks to be able to drive if their right knee is the surgical side, for left knee meniscal repairs it can be as soon as 1 week after surgery.
Before you start driving again, it is important to make sure that you have full control of the pedals, can easily reach the steering wheel and other controls, and have the physical strength and mobility to safely operate the vehicle. You should also be able to safely enter and exit the vehicle and perform an emergency stop if necessary.
It is always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting to drive again after meniscal repair surgery, to ensure that you are ready and that it is safe for you to do so.
8. What are the risks of arthroscopic meniscal surgery?
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with arthroscopic meniscal surgery. These risks include infection, bleeding, and reactions to the anesthesia. There is also a risk of injury to the blood vessels, nerves, or other structures in the knee. However, due to the minimally invasive nature of arthroscopic meniscal surgery the rates of complications are generally very low.
Dr. Nolan Horner is an orthopedic surgeon with a specialization in sports and shoulder surgery. He works in the Chicagoland area and has offices in Chicago, Oak Park, Oak Brook and St. Charles.