A meniscectomy is a surgical procedure that removes all or part of the meniscus, which is the cartilage that surrounds your knee. Having a meniscal injury can cause significant pain and functional impairment because the meniscus gives mechanical support and lubrication to the knee joint, helping with the normal functioning of your knee.
A total meniscectomy refers to the removal of the entire meniscus, and a partial meniscectomy refers to the removal of only the damaged section of the meniscus. The purpose of the surgery is to remove meniscus fragments that protrude into the joint. These pieces can cause your knee to lock by interfering with joint movement. Minor tears can generally heal without surgery, while more serious tears require surgery.
What are the causes of a meniscal injury?
A meniscal tear can occur quickly because of an injury or gradually due to a degenerative condition such as osteoarthritis. The cartilage gets less robust as you get older. As a result, injuries are more likely to occur, whether from sports or incidents.
What are the benefits of a meniscectomy?
A meniscectomy offers many advantages, including:
- Relieves discomfort and swelling
- Requires minimal downtime
- Reduces knee injury
- Restores meniscus function
- Prevents knee deterioration in the affected knee
- Allows you to resume your usual activities
What to expect before a meniscectomy?
During your consultation, our orthopedic doctor will determine whether to remove all or part of your meniscus based on your age, overall health, the location and size of the tear, and the condition of the meniscus. You will be asked to stop eating or drinking anything for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure.
What happens during a meniscectomy?
If the tear is minor, it may mend more quickly with non-surgical treatments such as getting plenty of rest, doing physical therapy, or taking anti-inflammatory medication.
When these treatments fail, a meniscectomy may be performed to relieve pain and restore mobility.
A meniscectomy can be performed under general or local anesthesia and take around an hour. The surgeon will make a small incision near the joint to insert the arthroscope, a thin tube with a camera and light at its end, and insert surgical instruments through other small incisions. Arthroscopic surgery aims to avoid knee damage that may result from open surgery and promote fuller and faster recovery. But some tears may require open knee surgery.
In a total meniscectomy, the entire meniscus is removed. In a partial meniscectomy, the surgeon removes the damaged parts of the meniscus and shaves the edges to smooth out the remaining meniscus. To prevent future deterioration of your knee, our orthopedic specialist will retain as much meniscal tissue as possible.
What to expect after a meniscectomy?
After a meniscectomy, you may experience minor pain and swelling for about a week. Our orthopedic doctor will provide you with pain medication if needed to alleviate discomfort. You should be able to put weight on your knee and stand but will probably need crutches for the first week.
The length of your recovery depends on the scope of the treatment, your age, and your overall health. In most cases, patients can fully recover and resume normal activities after one month. You will need to see the doctor for a follow-up appointment about a week or two post-surgery.
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