What is a meniscus repair or meniscectomy?

The menisci are disks of cartilage in the knee joint that connect your thighbone to your shinbone. They keep the knee stable and act as shock absorbers. When damaged due to sports injuries or general wear and tear, these structures can tear, causing pain, inability to straighten the leg and instability in the knee. A meniscus repair is a surgical procedure to repair a torn meniscus in the knee. A meniscectomy is the excision of a portion or the whole meniscus.

What does treatment involve?

When non-surgical techniques fail to treat a meniscus tear, a meniscus repair may be considered. Under general anaesthesia, Dr Heymans will do an exploratory arthroscopic procedure to evaluate the severity of the tear. Whether you require a meniscus repair or a partial or total meniscectomy will depend on how severe the tear is. Using arthroscopic surgery techniques, small puncture-like incisions will be made in the sides of the knee. This arthroscope will give a video view of the inner workings of the knee and allow Dr Heymans to see how severe the tear is. He will also be able to perform surgery using tiny arthroscopic tools through these small incisions. Dr Heymans may then choose to repair the tear, remove a piece of the torn meniscus or remove the entire meniscus.

What can I expect in terms of recovery?

You can expect severe swelling, pain and stiffness in the knee after a knee meniscectomy or meniscus repair. You will need to wear a brace or cast to keep the knee stable while healing. During recovery, you will need to use crutches to keep weight off the knee. You will need to use them for at least a month. Dr Heymans will advise you to begin with physiotherapy after about 3 weeks, to aid in the strengthening and increasing mobility of the knee and get you walking without crutches. If you had the meniscus repaired, you should be able to return to normal activities in 4 weeks of surgery. If a partial or total meniscectomy was done, it might take 3 months to recover fully. If Dr Heymans performed a partial or total meniscectomy, you might have some activity restrictions, but usually, physical activity can be resumed after 4 months.