Milwaukee Knee Surgeon Treats Torn Menisci
A meniscus repair is a surgical procedure done to treat torn meniscus in the knee. Sutures are used to stitch together the torn meniscus to allow for tissue healing. Torn meniscus is commonly referred to as cartilage tear or torn cartilage cushion. They are C-shaped pieces of cartilage which cushion the knee joint between the thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). They function as shock absorbers or cartilage cushions for the knee joint. A torn meniscus happens frequently in sports, but can happen on the job in any work setting. Meniscal tears are a common knee injury and can happen to people of all ages. There are two categories of meniscus tears: acute traumatic tears and degenerative tears.
Degenerative tears happen as we age due to repetitive stress on the meniscus and occur most commonly in middle-aged people. Degenerative tears are highly unlikely to heal from a meniscus repair, therefore a partial meniscectomy is usually done for these meniscus tears. Torn, degenerated meniscus makes it highly unlikely that a meniscus repair will heal or that the surrounding meniscus will be strong enough to hold the sutures used to repair it.
Various Types of Meniscal Tears
Acute traumatic tears occur when you traumatically twist or rotate your knee while your body weight is applied. Knee pain, swelling, catching and locking, and/or loss of knee motion are common symptoms after sustaining a torn meniscus. It can be a very painful injury and there are various types and locations of meniscal tears. In order for a successful meniscus repair (stitch together the torn meniscus to allow for tissue healing), it will depend on some key factors. It will depend on the location of the tear, the worker’s job or athlete’s sport, and the ligamentous stability of the knee and/or associated injury.
The location of tear is extremely important because the outer portion of the meniscus has a good blood supply whereas the inner portion has a poor blood supply. This blood supply is necessary for a meniscus repair to heal. Without a good blood supply, the area of torn meniscus will have to be removed (partial meniscectomy).
A meniscus repair is commonly done as an all-arthroscopic procedure (visualized using a camera and video monitor; performed using small surgical instruments through very small incisions). The torn portion of meniscus is repaired with sutures using small surgical instruments. Surgery is done under general anesthesia and as an outpatient procedure (you are able to go home the same day).
Meniscus Repair Healing Time
There are always risks and benefits of surgery, and there are never any 100% guarantees regarding the outcome of surgery. Dr. Gertel’s goal is to minimize the risks and help guide you to the best path of recovery. After surgery you will need to use crutches. Also, a hinged knee brace will be used to restrict your knee from bending (restrict knee flexion) for 4-6 weeks depending on the size of the tear. This is important to protect the meniscus and the sutures used to repair it. Rehabilitation with a physical therapist is done after surgery to regain knee motion, strength, and guide the worker’s or athlete’s return to work or sport.