Q:

What is a meniscus repair and why would you need one?

A:

Quick Answer

A meniscus repair is a procedure designed to remedy damage to the cartilage that cushions and stabilizes the knee, according to WebMD. Radial tears in the meniscus can frequently be repaired, depending on the location. However, degenerative, horizontal and flap tears usually cannot.

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Full Answer

The specific site of the tear and the patient's health, age and activity level determine the treatment plan that the doctor suggests, as stated by WebMD. Small tears along the outside edge of the meniscus, which is known as the red zone, usually resolve on their own with rest. However, a larger tear along the outside edge may heal after a surgical repair.

Tears that move from the red zone into the white zone (the central two-thirds of the meniscus) make the decision more complicated, as surgical repair is less likely to work, notes WebMD. Patients with a tear in the meniscus' white zone generally do not undergo surgical repair, because the meniscus is likely not to heal. However, if torn sections of the meniscus are creating inflammation and pain, a partial meniscectomy is another option. While open surgery, in which the surgeon opens up the knee and has visual and physical access to the meniscus, sometimes takes place, arthroscopic surgery is becoming more common. The surgeon slides an arthroscope (a slender tube) with a light and camera through smaller incisions around the knee in order to gain visibility without a larger cut. Stitches and anchors are the primary meniscus repair tools in this case.

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