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What is the difference between a torn meniscus and a healthy meniscus on an MRI?

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A healthy meniscus is displayed on an MRI as a series of slices that resemble black triangles, while one that is torn is displayed as an area of white tearing through the meniscus tissue, explains UCLA Health. Menisci are C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act like cushions between the thighbone and the shinbone, notes Mayo Clinic.

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Sudden meniscus tears usually happen during sporting events such as when a player squats and twists the knee or during direct contact such as a tackle, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Small meniscal tears or those that are on the outer edge of the meniscus are usually treated using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce the pain and the RICE protocol. The protocol involves resting the injured leg from weight-bearing activities, placing ice or a cold pack on injury site, compression using an elastic bandage to prevent swelling, and elevating the injured leg higher that the patient's heart, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Knee arthroscopy is the most commonly performed surgical procedure for meniscus tear repair. It involves placing a miniature camera through an incision in the knee to view the tear and inserting miniature surgical instruments through another inscision in order to trim and repair the tear, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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