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How do ACL and meniscus surgeries work?

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Quick Answer

Surgical repairs of ACL or meniscus injuries typically involve minimally invasive arthroscopic procedures with small incisions around the knee that allow quicker recovery, less scarring and more comfortable rehabilitation, according to Dr. David Chao. During an ACL reconstruction, the surgeon must completely remove the torn ligament and replace it with a new ACL. To repair a meniscus tear, the surgeon removes the damaged portions of the meniscus and sutures together the edges, allowing them to heal properly.

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Full Answer

An arthroscopy is a procedure in which the doctor examines the inside of the knee and, in some cases, repairs knee damage with the insertion of additional instruments through small incisions, explains Dr. Chao. This type of procedure offers many benefits over traditional surgery, including smaller incisions, no cutting of muscles or tendons, less bleeding during surgery, and the ability to return to normal activities sooner. It is often beneficial for patients with meniscal or ACL tears, as well as those suffering from mild arthritis, swelling of the joint lining, cartilage damage or misalignment of the kneecap. For a patient with an ACL tear, the surgeon usually must wait several weeks after the injury to allow swelling to go down before performing surgical repair. Treatment for a torn meniscus typically begins with conservative measures. If the patient continues to experience symptoms that are not improving, the surgeon may opt to perform an arthroscopic repair.

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