The two surgical treatment options for a meniscus tear are meniscus repair and partial meniscectomy (removal of the torn portion of the meniscus). Meniscus repair is indicated for meniscus tears with a simple tear pattern and adequate blood supply for healing. Although the recovery after meniscus repair is longer than that after partial meniscectomy, repair is preferable when possible. Successful meniscus repair preserves this important shock-absorbing structure and extends the lifespan of the knee.
Meniscus repair is an arthroscopic procedure in which two small incisions called “portals” are made in the front of the knee. A small camera is inserted into the joint through one portal and small arthroscopic tools are inserted through the other. Sutures are passed across the tear site to perform the repair. In smaller tears, the repair is done using an “all-inside” technique using only the two portals in the front of the knee. For larger tears, a third incision is made on the medial or lateral side of the knee to retrieve and tie the suture limbs and complete the repair. This is known as an “inside-out” repair. In all cases, Dr. Driscoll uses a variety of techniques aimed at improving the healing potential of the meniscus at the time of surgery. The goal is to give the meniscus the best possible chance to heal in order to restore its normal function and avoid additional surgery in the future.
Arthroscopic meniscus repair is an outpatient surgery. Patients go home the same day with a knee brace. The brace is worn for 4-6 weeks, but may be removed for bathing and physical therapy. Most patients are allowed to return to their activities by 6 months after surgery.